Root and rhizosphere bacterial phosphatase activity varies with tree species and soil phosphorus availability in Puerto Rico tropical forest
Phosphorus is an important nutrient for plant growth, but its availability is often limited in tropical forests. While most studies focus on either roots or bacteria, we have studied an important enzyme (phosphatase) in both roots and bacteria, showing that phosphatase release varies with tree species and soil phosphorus availability.
Earth System Models poorly represent tropical forests in part because we lack data on both the phosphorus cycle and the belowground processes that influence them. Our data can be used to improve how models represent the influence that roots and microbes have on the phosphorus cycle in tropical forests.
Earth System Models simulate the global carbon cycle to predict how our world responds to and changes with perturbations to the carbon cycle. Tropical forests absorb a large amount of carbon in the atmosphere, which makes it important to understand how they grow and are influenced by environmental factors such as phosphorus. Roots and microbes interact to access nutrients and water from the soil environment. In tropical forests, roots and microbes must release phosphatase, an enzyme that breaks down phosphorus locked into organic material. Plant growth in future climates may be highly influenced by whether plants can release enough phosphatase to continue growing. We studied phosphatase activity in roots and bacteria collected from different tree species and soil phosphorus availabilities in tropical forests of Puerto Rico to better understand phosphatase activity. The influence of roots and bacteria on the phosphorus cycle are not usually included in Earth System Models. We can use our data to help improve Earth System Models.
Contacts (BER PM)
[email protected] (301-903-0289)
Richard J. Norby
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
[email protected] (865-576-5261)
This research was supported as part of the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments – Tropics, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research.
K. Cabugao, C. Timm, A. Carrell, J. Childs, T. Lu, D. Pelletier, D. Weston, R. Norby (2017), Root and rhizosphere bacterial phosphatase activity varies with tree species and soil phosphorus availability in Puerto Rico tropical forest. Frontiers in Plant Science 8:1834, doi:10.3389/fpls.2017.01834.