Rhizosphere priming effect: A meta-analysis

Changfu Huo, Yiqi Luo, Weixin Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

242 Scopus citations


Rhizosphere priming is crucial for regulating soil carbon and nitrogen biogeochemical cycles. An appreciable number of studies have been conducted to quantify the rhizosphere priming effect (RPE), and have shown that the RPE is sensitive to changes of plant and soil conditions. These diverse results across individual studies offer us an opportunity to explore for potential general patterns and variability. In this study, we conducted a meta-analysis of RPE values taken from 31 publications. Our results showed that, on average, the RPE enhanced soil organic carbon mineralization rate by 59% across all studies. The magnitudes of the RPE significantly varied among plant types and soil texture. Within plant types, woody species showed the highest RPE followed by grasses while crops had the lowest level of the RPE, indicating that plant traits and physiology may exert important controls on the RPE. Soils with finer texture tended to produce stronger RPEs than soils with coarser texture, suggesting that interactions between the rhizosphere and the soil matrix may modulate the RPE. Furthermore, the level of the RPE is positively correlated with aboveground plant biomass, but surprisingly not with root biomass which is the commonly believed key variable for influencing the RPE. In addition, the RPE increased with the length of experimental duration, which implies that the RPE may persist much longer than previously believed because it impacts stabilized soil carbon more than labile carbon as the length of experimental duration increases. Overall, the results from this meta-analysis further illustrate several complex features of the RPE and call for future attentions to decipher this complexity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-84
Number of pages7
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Plant-soil interaction
  • Rhizosphere effect
  • Soil carbon
  • Soil organic matter
  • Soil respiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Soil Science


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