Microbes Integral to Soil P Cycle

Summarised by Dr Ash Martin  PhD BSc(For)Hons

Microbes are integral to the soil phosphorus (P) cycle and as such play an important role in making P available to plants.  This importance is accentuated by the P deficiency of many soils throughout the world, by rising costs of P fertiliser, and because the efficiency of P use by plants from soil and fertiliser sources is often poor, despite many soils containing a relatively large amount of total P that is only sparingly available to plants.  Using microbes to increase the availability of P in soil is therefore an attractive proposition, and is not a new concept.  Gerretsen (1948) showed that pure cultures of soil bacteria increased the P nutrition of plants through solubilisation of calcium phosphates.  Since this study, many examples of P mobilisation by microbes have been reported.  Plants take up P as phosphate via high-affinity transporters in their roots, expressed in response to P deficiency and through interaction with mycorrhizal fungi.  This article summarises the current evidence on the role of microbes in increasing the availability of P to plants and opportunities for enhancing P mobilisation are discussed.

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Read the in-depth article:

Richardson & Simpson (2011).  Soil microorganisms mediating phosphorus availability.  Plant Physiology.  156: 989–996.  (Requires PDF viewer)

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