Quantification of root water uptake with stable isotopes and MRI

The objective of this project, which is conducted in the frame of the Helmholtz portfolio theme Sustainable Bioeconomy, is the quantification of water uptake of different crop species (wheat, maize) from different soil layers. Water uptake will be determined with real-time laser-based isotope analysis, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be used for non-invasive visualization of the root distribution in the soil. For tracing the water fluxes in the soil–plant system, NMR (Gd complexes) and stable isotope (2H, 18O) tracers will be applied .

The work is divided into three phases:

  1. In the first phase, simultaneous laser isotope and MRI measurements are conducted with single plants.
  2. In the second phase, laser isotope measurements of transpiration and soil water will be conducted at the lysimeters scale.
  3. In the third phase, the obtained results shall be used for the further development of root water uptake and SVAT models (R-SWMS, SiSPAT).

Expected results are (i) the identification of adaptation strategies of the plants to heterogeneous water availability or water deficit in the soil, and (ii) the evaluation whether the isotopic signature of plant transpiration is a suitable indicator for plant stress.


Dr. Youri Rothfuss
Phone: +49-2461-619429
Email: r.rothfuss@fz-juelich.de

Last Modified: 14.02.2023