Microbial tradeoffs in internal and external use of resources regulated by phosphorus and carbon availability

A general strategy in modern agriculture to reduce phosphorus (P) fertilization is to rely on microbial efficiency of P acquisition and recycling from organic sources. However, this involves extracellular enzymes that require energy from ATP, so the process depends on the microbes' physiological state and soil P availability. To elucidate the key relationships we compared P acquisition processes in P-poor soil (Cambisol) and links between C:P stoichiometry, enzyme activity, and ATP with microbial communities in contrasting activity states (dormancy, growth followed by starvation and gradually activated, respectively induced by no, single large (50 mu g C g(-1) soil) and multiple low (five days of 10 mu g C g(-1) soil day(-1)) additions of glucose as a carbon (C) source). A sole P input, without C addition, almost doubled microbial C (C-mic) contents, maintained stable phosphatase activity at 36 nmol h(-1) per nmol ATP and raised microbial P (P-mic) 2.7-fold. In contrast, sole glucose addition increased P-mic by only 8%, confirming that P-limitation was much stronger than C limitation. Only 5-10 % of P potentially mineralized by phosphatase was recovered as microbial P. C-mic:P-mic ratios in microbial biomass 200 and 350 respectively reflected C starvation and strong P starvation. The ATP was a suitable predictor of microbial biomass in soil lacking fresh substrate, but weak predictor of microbial biomass after substrate input. Structural equation models revealed contrasting strategies of P utilization depending on microbial activity state. Dormant microorganisms (without glucose addition) invested most P to ATP production. In contrast, following substrate addition P-limited microorganisms accelerated phosphatase production, and hence capacity to mine P in organic sources. Thus, the P utilization/acquisition strategies depended on C accessibility and were modulated by P availability.

Bilyera N.1, 2, 7, 8 , Dippold M.A.3 , Bleicher J.1 , Maranguit D.4 , Kuzyakov Y. 1, 5 , Blagodatskaya E. 5, 6
Elsevier Masson SAS
  • 1 Georg August Univ Gottingen, Dept Agr Soil Sci, Dept Soil Sci Temperate Ecosyst, D-37077 Gottingen, Germany
  • 2 Natl Univ Life & Environm Sci Ukraine, Dept Radiobiol & Radioecol, UA-03041 Kiev, Ukraine
  • 3 Georg August Univ Gottingen, Dept Biogeochem Agroecosyst, D-37077 Gottingen, Germany
  • 4 Visayas State Univ, Dept Soil Sci, 6521-A, Baybay, Leyte, Philippines
  • 5 RUDN, Agrotechnol Inst, Moscow, Russia
  • 6 UFZ Helmholtz Ctr Environm Res, Dept Soil Ecol, D-06120 Halle, Saale, Germany
  • 7 Christian Albrechts Univ Kiel, Inst Plant Nutr & Soil Sci, Dept Soil Sci, D-24118 Kiel, Germany
  • 8 Christian Albrechts Univ Kiel, Inst Phytopathol, Dept Soil & Plant Microbiome, D-24118 Kiel, Germany
Molar microbial C:P stoichiometry; P fertilization; Enzyme activity; ATP; Microbial biomass; Structural equation modeling
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