The first investigator known to have developed a root box was probably Julius von Sachs in the 19th century (Sachs, 1865). Since then, many soil-based, ex situ growth systems, today referred to as rhizoboxes, rootboxes or rooting box have been developed for research, breeding and education. Investigate the "hidden half" of plants, monitor the rhizosphere and soil under controlled conditions with VSI Rhizobox Systems. We offer an "ecosystem" of Rhizobox research tools optimized for monitoring of roots and/or soil processes under controlled conditions - as well as durability and ease-of-use. Choose from a wide range of accessories (racks, manipulation stands, respiration chambers, etc.) - standard and custom sizes and many different rhizobox designs available. Contact us if you want to discuss rhizoboxes.
Rhizoboxes for Root & Rhizosphere monitoring and root phenotyping ex situ. Request a quote for custom rhizobox designs by filling out the Rhizobox configuration form (pdf). Try our Rhizobox Configurator to plan your designs. Standard Rhizoboxes and Standard Splitboxes (with center division) (A5 to A3) are available in the online store.
Rhizobox Racks (standard, compact, heavy duty) for angled - and cooling racks for angled & tempered - placement of rhizoboxes. Angled placement facilitates root visibility along the transparent front panel. Racks are custom build to match any Rhizobox dimension. Compact Racks / Racks with Gaps for standard Root Boxes are available in the online shop.
Gas Flux & Isotope Labelling Chambers. Use matched respiration chambers on top of rhizoboxes to combine root monitoring with gas flux measurements and isotope labeling.
RhizonIrrigators. Passive irrigation & fertigation of Rhizoboxes and Rhizonboxes at different depths, creating realistic soil moisture pattern. Implement depth-stratified soil pollution treatments.
Rhizobox Imaging Systems. Efficient and high quality automatic or semi-automatic imaging of rhizoboxes. The modular systems can be adapted to a wide range of rhizobox and plants dimensions. Read more about the automatic Rhizobox Phenotyping Platform (incl. shoot) and/or the semi-automatic LK-1250 Rhizobox Imager.
Root Washing System. For efficient, semi-automated root elutriation from rhizobox soil compartments at harvest, consider the Semi-Automatic Root Elutriation System - processing 4 or 8 soil samples in parallel.
Try our rhizobox configurator web tool to set the target dimensions of rhizoboxes / rhizonboxes, calculate the effects on rooting and rhizosphere space, overall weight of rootboxes and approximate the amount of soil required.
We are happy to discuss your research ideas involving Rhizo(n)boxes as versatile root and soil monitoring systems. Contact us to get rhizobox design recommendations fitting your experimental goals, species etc. You can order standard rhizoboxes, rhizonboxes and splitboxes (paper size A3 - A5 outside dimensions, 3 cm deep) and accessories via the rhizobox webstore (within the EU).
NEW: Rhizoboxes and Rhizobox accessories in transparent and black are now available in 3-5 mm PMMA with a recycling rate of 70%. Contact us if a more sustainably produced acrylic fits your research needs. For full transparency: Rhizoboxes will continue to be made from new PMMA panels unless the use of recycled acrylic is confirmed.
Rhizobox / root box systems are used to i) separate rhizosphere soil from bulk soil, ii) are a feasible way to study different aspects of soil - soil pore water - root interactions, iii) measure root growth, turnover and spatial distribution (and a wide range of other root traits relevant to characterize root systems in phenotyping approaches), & image the rhizosphere, and iv) sample defined root types (e.g. age classes, orders) or soil areas (rhizosphere/bulk soil). Rhizonboxes are particularly useful for manipulating specific rhizosphere patches.
Recenty, Yee and colleagues (2021) provided a great overview on representative rhizobox designs, showcasing the manifold rhizobox configuration options for specific research questions (see Figure). (Subpannel A) "Classical" Rhizotron/Rhizobox set up, (B) Rhizobox with side-compartment, (C) vertical and (D) horizontal root mat chambers, root boxes with (E) mycorrhizal compartments (e.g. separated by 50 µm mesh and/or air gaps), and (F,G) split-root or -box designs (see "Splitbox-design") with complete or semi-permeable compartments. See Yee et al. (2021) for details.
Similarly innovative, Yin et al. (2020) proposed a "sandwich" rhizobox system - growing roots in nylon mesh between two rhizobox halves with soil, allowing for easy retrieval of 2D root systems for subsequent analysis, analogous to soil-free growing paper-based phenotyping systems, but with the advantage of harvesting roots exposed to soil incl. its rhizosphere microbiome and unique abiotic conditions. See below for some general design conideration when planing your Rhizobox design. In particular, please consider the target plant size when selecting a certain rhizobox size, and the potential effect of root illumination. The integration of RRPs' (Micro-)Rhizons and RhizonIrrigators into the Rhizobox systems ("Rhizonboxes") creates advanced opportunities for soil water sampling and manipulation in root boxes. Rhizobox racks for angled placement and top-up rhizobox chambers for gas flux measurements or isotope labelling complement our root box portfolio. For studies under flooded soil conditions, we are offering hydroponic rootboxes.
For your root box design, you may want to consider...
The rhizobox configuration form and some exemplary rhizobox pictures provide a good overview of possible rhizobox designs, but we are always open to realize your special requirements. For example, ultra large rhizoboxes for educational displays ("rhizotrons") or hydroponic rootboxes require different construction principles due to the weight of soils and large plants, waterproof sealing etc. Contact us via WhatsApp or email to discuss your custom rhizobox design ideas!
Roots on rhizobox / root box transparent surfaces or after harvest can be analysed with a growing range of free or commercial software programs. However, rhizoboxes are also an educative way to illustrate root (and shoot growth) to younger audiences. Here we give a brief onverview on potential programs to use for image analysis:
Please check the Plant Image Analysis Webpage (carefully collected by Guillaume Lobet and colleagues) for further software packages allowing root analysis.
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