Hofmann, KY; Heuck, C; Spohn, M: Phosphorus resorption by young beech trees and soil phosphatase activity as dependent on P availability, Oecologia, 181, 369-379 (2016), doi:10.1007/s00442-016-3581-x
Motivated by decreasing foliar phosphorus (P) concentrations in Fagus sylvatica L. forests, we studied P recycling depending on P fertilization in mesocosms with juvenile trees and soils of two contrasting F. sylvatica L. forests in a greenhouse. We hypothesized that forests with low soil P availability are better adapted to recycle P than forests with high soil P availability. The P resorption efficiency from senesced leaves was significantly higher at the P-poor site (70 %) than at the P-rich site (48 %). P fertilization decreased the resorption efficiency significantly at the P-poor site to 41 %, while it had no effect at the P-rich site. Both acid and alkaline phosphatase activity were higher in the rhizosphere of the P-poor than of the P-rich site by 53 and 27 %, respectively, while the activities did not differ in the bulk soil. Fertilization decreased acid phosphatase activity significantly at the P-poor site in the rhizosphere, but had no effect on the alkaline, i.e., microbial, phosphatase activity at any site. Acid phosphatase activity in the P-poor soil was highest in the rhizosphere, while in the P-rich soil, it was highest in the bulk soil. We conclude that F. sylvatica resorbed P more efficiently from senescent leaves at low soil P availability than at high P availability and that acid phosphatase activity in the rhizosphere but not in the bulk soil was increased at low P availability. Moreover, we conclude that in the P-rich soil, microbial phosphatases contributed more strongly to total phosphatase activity than plant phosphatases.

Keywords: Forest nutrition, Nutrient resorption, Rhizosphere, Phosphomonoesterase, Plant–microbe interaction

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