Effects of anionic polyacrylamide on maize growth: A short term 14C labeling study

Liang Wu, Yong Sik Ok, Xing Liang Xu, Yakov Kuzyakov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: Various anionic polyacrylamide polymers (PAMs) are frequently used to improve soil properties and reduce erosion. However, the effects of their application on plant growth remain unclear. Methods: Aggregate-free loess with high water holding capacity was used as growing substrate to test the effects of two rates (10 and 40 kg ha -1) of a linear PAM on the growth of maize (Zea maize L.) for a period up to one month. The PAM effects were evaluated at three levels of soil water content (SWC) and three plant ages, based on water consumption, shoot and root biomass, as well as allocation of recently assimilated C in plants and soil using 14C labeling. Results: Both SWC and maize age significantly affected water consumption, biomass accumulation, and 14C allocation in plant parts and soil. Even though consistent increases in plant biomass and total assimilated 14C were observed, the effects of PAM application were insignificant on either of these variables. Conclusions: The effects of PAM application were directly connected to soil rather than to maize, and could be masked by the non-structural loess. The effects tended to be age and soil-moisture specific, and were modulated by the rhizodeposition processes. The possible mechanisms of PAM application on plant growth were also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-322
Number of pages12
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The authors thank the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) for funding of the joint PPP program, which enabled L. Wu and X.L. Xu to conduct the experiments in Germany. We thank the Visiting Professorship by the Chinese Academy of Sciences for Y. Kuzyakov to carry on the research in China. Polyacrylamide was supported by the Cooperative Research Program for Agricultural Science & Technology Development (PJ0074092010) of the RDA in Korea. We would like to acknowledge J. Kettering and Dr. M. Gocke for their help in the experiment. We are also very grateful to Dr. M.H. Song and four anonymous reviewers for their constructive and valuable comments to improve this manuscript.


  • C labeling
  • PAM
  • Plant activity
  • Rhizodeposition
  • Soil aggregates
  • Soil moisture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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