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Partitioning of soil phosphorus among arbuscular and ectomycorrhizal trees in tropical and subtropical forests

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  • Xubing Liu
  • David Burslem
  • Joe Taylor
  • Andy Taylor
  • Eyen Khoo
  • Noreen Majalap-Lee
  • Thorunn Helgason
  • David Johnson


Publication details

JournalEcology Letters
DateAccepted/In press - 13 Feb 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 13 Mar 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 May 2018
Issue number5
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)713-723
Early online date13/03/18
Original languageEnglish


Partitioning of soil phosphorus (P) pools has been proposed as a key mechanism maintaining plant diversity, but experimental support is lacking. Here, we provided different chemical forms of P to 15 tree species with contrasting root symbiotic relationships to investigate plant P acquisition in both tropical and subtropical forests. Both ectomycorrhizal (ECM) and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) trees responded positively to addition of inorganic P, but strikingly, ECM trees acquired more P from a complex organic form (phytic acid). Most ECM tree species and all AM tree species also showed some capacity to take up simple organic P (monophosphate). Mycorrhizal colonisation was negatively correlated with soil extractable P concentration, suggesting that mycorrhizal fungi may regulate organic P acquisition among tree species. Our results support the hypothesis that ECM and AM plants partition soil P sources, which may play an ecologically important role in promoting species coexistence in tropical and subtropical forests.

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© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

    Research areas

  • Mycorrhizal fungi, phosphate, resource partitioning, seedling growth, soil organic phosphorus, tropical and subtropical forests

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