In Situ Silicone Tube Microextraction: A New Method for Undisturbed Sampling of Root-exuded Thiophenes from Marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) in Soil

Brian K. Mohney, Tricia Matz, Jessica LaMoreaux, David S. Wilcox, Anne Louise Gimsing, Philipp Mayer, Jeffrey D. Weidenhamer

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The difficulties of monitoring allelochemical concentrations in soil and their dynamics over time have been a major barrier to testing hypotheses of allelopathic effects. Here, we evaluate three diffusive sampling strategies that employ polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) sorbents to map the spatial distribution and temporal dynamics of root-exuded thiophenes from the African marigold, Tagetes erecta. Solid phase root zone extraction (SPRE) probes constructed by inserting stainless steel wire into PDMS tubing were used to monitor thiophene concentrations at various depths beneath marigolds growing in PVC pipes. PDMS sheets were used to map the distribution of thiophenes beneath marigolds grown in thin glass boxes. Concentrations of the two major marigold thiophenes measured by these two methods were extremely variable in both space and time. Dissection and analysis of roots indicated that distribution of thiophenes in marigold roots also was quite variable. A third approach used 1 m lengths of PDMS microtubing placed in marigold soil for repeated sampling of soil without disturbance of the roots. The two ends of the tubing remained out of the soil so that solvent could be washed through the tubing to collect samples for HPLC analysis. Unlike the other two methods, initial experiments with this approach show more uniformity of response, and suggest that soil concentrations of marigold thiophenes are affected greatly even by minimal disturbance of the soil. Silicone tube microextraction gave a linear response for alpha-terthienyl when maintained in soils spiked with 0-10 ppm of this thiophene. This method, which is experimentally simple and uses inexpensive materials, should be broadly applicable to the measurement of non-polar root exudates, and thus provides a means to test hypotheses about the role of root exudates in plant-plant and other interactions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1279-1287
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Allelopathy
  • Diffusive sampling
  • PDMS
  • Root exudates
  • Soil analysis
  • Tagetes erecta


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