Understanding root-microbe interactions in the rhizosphere
Treatment wetlands are an accepted method to remove a variety of contaminants from water polluted from a specific source. They are a low-energy low-cost alternative that harness natural biogeochemical processes uniquely inherent to wetland systems. A continued impediment to broader application is a lack of fundamental understanding of how plant roots interact with the biofilm community in the surrounding rhizosphere, where the bulk of the pertinent biogeochemical transformations take place.
Emma, a graduate student at Montana State University, is researching the net influence of oxygen and organic inputs from roots by developing a mechanism to measure in situ dissolved oxygen gradients at and near the root surface. This novel project will be a step towards better understanding the influence of the microenvironment of the rhizosphere for more efficient contaminant removal.