Multiple phosphorus acquisition strategies adopted by fine roots in low-fertility soils in Central Amazonia

Lugli, Laynara F.; Andersen, Kelly M.; Aragão, Luiz E.O.C.; Cordeiro, Amanda L.; Cunha, Hellen F.V.; Fuchslueger, Lucia; Meir, Patrick; Mercado, Lina M.; Oblitas, Erick; Quesada, Carlos A.; Rosa, Jessica S.; Schaap, Karst J.; Valverde-Barrantes, Oscar; Hartley, Iain P.. 2020 Multiple phosphorus acquisition strategies adopted by fine roots in low-fertility soils in Central Amazonia. Plant and Soil, 450 (1-2). 49-63.

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Background and aims: Ancient Amazon soils are characterised by low concentrations of soil phosphorus (P). Therefore, it is hypothesised that plants may invest a substantial proportion of their resources belowground to adjust their P-uptake strategies, including root morphological, physiological (phosphatase enzyme activities) and biotic (arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) associations) adaptations. Since these strategies are energy demanding, we hypothesise that trade-offs between morphological traits and root phosphatase exudation and symbiotic associations would occur. Specifically, we expected that plants which invest in finer roots, and therefore have greater ability to explore large soil volumes, would have a high investment in physiological adaptations such as enhanced phosphatase production. In contrast, we expected that plants with predominantly thicker roots would invest more in symbiotic associations, in which carbon is traded for P acquired from AM fungal communities. Methods: We collected absorptive roots (<2 mm diameter) from a lowland Central Amazon forest near Manaus, Brazil. We measured fine root diameter, specific root length (SRL), specific root area (SRA), root tissue density (RTD), root phosphatase activity (APase) and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi colonisation. Results: Root morphological traits were related to APase activity, with higher APase activity in roots with higher SRL and SRA but lower RTD. However, the degree of AM colonisation was not related to any measured root morphological trait. Conclusions: Fine absorptive roots likely benefit from having low RTD, high SRL, SRA and APase exudation to acquire P efficiently. However, because AM colonisation was not related to root morphology, we suggest that investment in multiple P-uptake strategies is required for maintaining productivity in Central Amazon forests.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Hydro-climate Risks (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0032-079X
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: Amazon, arbuscular mycorrhizas, lowland tropical forest, root phosphatase activity, phosphorus limitation, root morphology
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 29 Mar 2019 12:37 +0 (UTC)

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