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Plants Are in Control

Articles: Plants Are in Control

The rhizosphere is an area of interaction between the surface of a plant root and the area surrounding it. Bacteria and other microorganisms, as well as soil debris, fill the area. 20,0005. Photograph by Sandra Silvers, USDA-ARS

[sidebar]Healthy soil is teaming with life—not just earthworms and insects, but a staggering multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. The term “soil food web” refers to the interactions of these organisms, which feed on one another and, in doing so, provide an environment in which plants can grow and prosper.

Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis
Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web[/sidebar]

Most gardeners think of plants as only *taking up nutrients through root systems and feeding the leaves. Few realize that a great deal of the energy that results from photosynthesis in the leaves is actually used by plants to produce chemicals they secrete through their roots. These secretions are known as exudates. A good analogy is perspiration, a human’s exudate.

Root exudates are in the form of carbohydrates (including sugars) and proteins. Amazin...

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