Modeling the impact of root exudates on the hydraulic properties of the rhizosphere

For many years the rhizosphere which is the zone of soil in the vicinity of the roots and which is influenced by the roots is known as a unique soil environment with different physical, biological and chemical properties than those of the bulk soil. In recent studies, it has been shown that root exudates alter the hydraulic properties of the rhizosphere affecting water content distribution and root water uptake (RWU). In this work we aim to understand how the contribution of different root and rhizosphere properties influence the hydraulic properties of the soil, and how in turn this impact water and nutrient flow between the soil and the root.

Electrical signature of root system

Geoelectrical tools are known to detect vadose zone processes, they can image the subsurface in a noninvasive fashion (for a relatively low price), and therefore they hold a great promise to be used in root and rhizosphere research. However, it is not clear how roots and roots activities affect the electrical properties of the soil. This understanding which stands in the heart of our research is crucial to utilized geoelectrical methods for root and rhizosphere studies. Therefore, the main objective of this work is to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms that govern the electrical properties of roots and their activities. Ultimately, our work will assist in the development of a non-invasive tool to image roots and their activity within the subsurface. This tool can improve our understanding of the interactions between roots and soil and can assist in the development of breeding techniques that will also consider the belowground part of the plant.

Monitoring organic contaminants with geophysical methods

Monitoring of organic contaminants in the subsurface is of great importance to protecting water resources and to design suitable remediation strategy. Because the contaminants hidden in the soil and since the subsurface is highly heterogeneous, monitoring of the contaminants is a challenging task. Geophysical methods are sensitive to the subsurface properties, they provide a non-invasive spatial map of it, and hence they hold a great promise in monitoring contaminants. Efficiently use of these methods requires an understanding of the relation between the measured geophysical signature and the subsurface properties of interest. In soil and sediments, organic contaminants are mostly interacts with organic matter (OM). Hence, understanding how the interactions between OM and organic contaminants affect geophysical signature is the main objective of this work. Ultimately, this research will advance our understanding of the influence of organic contaminants on the geophysical signature of soil and will promote the applications of those methods.


  • Schwartz, N., Carminati, A., and Javaux, M., 2016, The impact of mucilage on root water uptake: Numerical study. Water Resources Research, 52, 264-267. link

  • Schwartz, N., and Furman, A, 2014, On the spectral induced polarization signature of soil organic matter. Geophysical Journal International, 200, 589-595. link

  • Schwartz, N. Shalem, T., and Furman, A, 2014, The effect of organic acid on the spectral induced polarization response of soil.Geophysical Journal International, 197 (1), 269-276. link

  • Shefer, I., Schwartz, N., and Furman, A, 2013, The effect of free-phase NAPL on the spectral induced polarization signature of variably saturated soil. Water Resources Research, 49, 6229-6237. link

  • Schwartz, N., Furman, A, 2012, Spectral induced polarization of soil contaminated by organic pollutant: Experiment and modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research, 117, B10203. link

  • Schwartz, N., Furman, A., and J.A., Huisman, 2012, The effect of NAPL on the electrical properties of unsaturated porous media, Geophysical Journal International, 188 (3), 1007-1011. link


Interested in what we do?

If you are interested to join our group or to get more details, please contact me by email. Potential students, please include statement of your interest, background, objectives and a copy of your CV.

Current open position

In addition to the specific position posted here, we are always welcome bright, highly motivated candidates.

  • Lab manager for a full/part time position. See description here.
  • MSc student for a project on “Monitoring organic contaminants with geophysical methods”.