ProjectRhizosphere by design

Addressing the lack of quantitative understanding of the processes that govern rhizosphere formation

Professor Paul Hallett
University of Aberdeen

Co-PIs & Co-Is

Professor Tiina Roose, University of Southhampton

Professor Ian Sinclair, University of Southhampton

Dr. Glyn Bengough, University of Dundee

Dr. Tim George, The James Hutton Institute


Aims & Objectives

 This project will address the lack of quantitative understanding of the processes that govern rhizosphere formation. Using non-invasive in situ root hair imaging and new near isogenic barley and maize lines the project will:

  • Isolate and characterise compounds produced by plant roots that affect surface tension and viscosity at soil-root interface.
  • The isolated compounds will be added to soil to
    measure their effects on mechanical and hydrological properties.
  • Use maize and barley plants to vary root hair density, length and exudation to see the effect on soil physical properties these changes have.
  • Measure how the rhizosphere soil physical properties change with age and under different nutrient and
    physical stresses in glasshouse and field experiments.

Professor Paul Hallett

University of Aberdeen

Professor Hallett, as Professor of Soil Physics at the University of Aberdeen, works across disciplines specialising in the interaction between physical and biological processes in soils, gaining a quantitative understanding of hydrological and mechanical properties of soils altered by biology.  You can find out more about Paul here.


Nico Koebernick


Nico Koebernick is a biophysicist interested in root systems and root-soil interactions.  Specifically his focus is on using non-destructive imaging techniques to investigate the dynamics of rhizosphere processes. Nico is familiar with a range of techniques including X-ray tomography (from micro to macro scale), soil physical and plant physiological measurements, and modeling of root-soil interactions

Lawrie Brown


Lawrie is an experienced plant ecophysiologist whose research focuses enhancing the understanding of resource capture by crop plants. Specifically she is looking at root hair traits with potential to improve future agricultural sustainability.  Lawrie is familiar with a wide variety of techniques including soil and plant nutrient analysis, methods for the assessment of root characteristics, hydroponic, mesocosm and field environment plant growth studies, phenotyping genetic populations for traits associated with resource capture, techniques for sampling and studying the rhizosphere.