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The Art of Roots

The Art of Roots
Undergraduate researcher Sam Panock using a needle to inject nutrient solution into a syringe holding roots to measure root exudation.

For the first few weeks on my research, I have been out in the field collecting soil and root samples from my selected tree species. The soil samples are taken using  soil cores. The soil core tool is pounded into the ground to retrieve the top 10cm of rhizosphere and bulk soil- talk about using those arm muscles! I have also been taking root samples and collecting root exudation data. To measure root exudation, roots must remain attached to the tree root system but separated from the others and cleaned. The clean root is placed into a syringe filled with plastic crafting beads and nutrient solution. The beads and solution create a "fake" environment so the root continues to act naturally. The syringe is left in the field for 24 hours and then collected and brought back to the lab. In the lab, the roots are measured for size and biomass, and the nutrient solution is analyzed for carbon concentration. 

Check out the photos- A picture is worth a thousand words! 

Cheers to roots!

Root placed in syringe filled with craft beads and nutrient solution to sit in the field for 24 hours
Root placed in syringe filled with craft beads and nutrient solution to sit in the field for 24 hours
Preparing roots for exudation measurements by rinsing them off with DI water
Preparing roots for exudation measurements by rinsing them off with DI water

 

About the Author
spanock's picture
My name is Samantha Panock. I am an undergraduate student at Loyola University Chicago double majoring in Environmental Science and Environmental Policy. I am a 2017 summer undergraduate research intern at The Morton Arboretum. I am conducting soil ecology research under the mentorship of Dr. Meghan Midgley. Our project analyzes the relationships between selected root traits, soil processes, and leaf litter contributions across several tree species in order to provide a more in-depth understanding of below ground operations.