An optimized rhizobox protocol to visualize root growth and responsiveness to localized nutrients

Jennifer E. Schmidt, Carolyn Lowry, Amelie C.M. Gaudin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Roots are notoriously difficult to study. Soil is both a visual and mechanical barrier, making it difficult to track roots in situ without destructive harvest or expensive equipment. We present a customizable and affordable rhizobox method that allows the non-destructive visualization of root growth over time and is particularly well-suited to studying root plasticity in response to localized resource patches. The method was validated by assessing maize genotypic variation in plasticity responses to patches containing15N-labeled legume residue. Methods are described to obtain representative developmental measurements over time, measure root length density in resource-containing and control patches, calculate root growth rates, and determine15N recovery by plant roots and shoots. Advantages, caveats, and potential future applications of the method are also discussed. Although care must be taken to ensure that experimental conditions do not bias root growth data, the rhizobox protocol presented here yields reliable results if carried out with sufficient attention to detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere58674
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number140
StatePublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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