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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Spohn, M; Zavišić, A; Nassal, P; Bergkemper, F; Schulz, S; Marhan, S; Schloter, M; Kandeler, E; Polle, A: Temporal variations of phosphorus uptake by soil microbial biomass and young beech trees in two forest soils with contrasting phosphorus stocks, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 117, 191-202 (2018), doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2017.10.019
The objective of this study was to determine temporal variations of phosphorus (P) uptake by young beech trees (Fagus sylvatica L.) and soil microorganisms in two forests with contrasting P stocks with the aim to better understand P dynamics in forest ecosystems. For this purpose, we conducted a mesocosm experiment and determined P uptake by F. sylvatica, total soil microbial biomass (SMB) and ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) at the root tip based on 33P labeling at five times during the year. Furthermore, we measured EMF community composition, potential acid phosphatase activity (APA), and abundance of bacterial acid phosphatase (phoN) genes. The results showed that plant P uptake was elevated in summer and autumn in the mesocosms from the P-poor site, while it was elevated only in autumn in the mesocosms from the P-rich site. P uptake by SMB was higher in the organic layer at the P-poor site than in the organic layer at the P-rich site throughout the year, underlining the importance of the microbial P pool in the organic layer of P-poor forests. The finding shows that the SMB was able to compensate for the lower P availability in the soil of the P-poor site. The EMF community composition was very variable over the year, and plant P uptake seemed to be independent of EMF community composition. Despite the high species turnover in the EMF community, the potential APA was high throughout the year, indicating functional redundancy of the microbial community with respect to P mineralization. Taken together, our results show important differences in temporal patterns of P uptake by F. sylvatica and the SMB as well as in the total partitioning of P between the SMB and F. sylvatica across the sites. Moreover, decreasing P availability in forests would not only change the size of P stocks and of P cycling rates, but would also affect temporal dynamics of P uptake and the overall partitioning of P between different biotic compartments.
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