Klotzbücher, A; Schunck, F; Klotzbücher, T; Kaiser, K; Glaser, B; Spohn, M; Widdig, M; Mikutta, R: Goethite-bound phosphorus in an acidiy subsoil is not available to Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), Frontiers in Forests and Global Change (2020), online: 2020-08-07, doi:10.3389/ffgc.2020.00094
In forests, where the supply of bioavailable phosphorus (P) from easily weatherable primary minerals is small, plants are thought to recycle P efficiently by uptake of P released from decomposing forest floor material. Yet a share of the P is leached into the subsoil, where it is strongly adsorbed onto the reactive surfaces of pedogenic Fe and Al oxides. This raises the question of whether P leached into subsoil is also recycled. To investigate the mobilization of P bound to hydrous Fe oxides, we conducted a mesocosm experiment in a greenhouse. Beech saplings were grown for 14 months in subsoil material (Bw horizon from the P-poor Lüss beech forest) with added goethite-P adsorption complexes, in either inorganic (orthophosphate) or organic (phytate) form. Four types of control mesocosms were run: soil only and soil mixed with either dissolved orthophosphate or dissolved phytate or goethite. At the end of the experiment, neither total P mass in trees nor P contents in leaves differed between the treatments. According to leaf nutrient contents, plant growth was strongly limited by P in all treatments. Yet total P mass in trees did not increase over the course of the experiment. Thus, despite its P demand, beech was not able to acquire P from goethite surfaces within two vegetation periods. Also P added in dissolved form to the soil before transplanting as well as native soil P were not available. This suggests that, once inorganic and organic P is bound to pedogenic metal oxides in mineral soil, it is not or hardly recycled, which can be an explanation for field data demonstrating quantitatively significant stocks of P in the subsoil of P-deficient forests.
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