Symbiotic nitrogen (N)-fixing plants can enrich ecosystems with N, which can alter the cycling and demand for other nutrients. Researchers have hypothesized that fixed N could be used by plants and soil microbes to produce extracellular phosphatase enzymes, which release P from organic matter. Consistent with this speculation, the presence of N-fixing plants is often associated with high phosphatase activity, either in the soil or on root surfaces, although other studies have not found this association, and the connection between phosphatase and rates of N fixation—the mechanistic part of the argument—is tenuous. Here, we measured soil phosphatase activity under N-fixing trees and non-fixing trees transplanted and grown in tropical and temperate sites in the USA: two sites in Hawaii, and one each in New York and Oregon. This provides a rare example of phosphatase activity measured in a multi-site field experiment with rigorously quantified rates of N fixation. We found no difference in soil phosphatase activity under N-fixing vs. non-fixing trees nor across rates of N fixation, though we note that no sites were P limited and only one was N limited. Our results add to the literature showing no connection between N fixation rates and phosphatase activity.
|Title||Symbiotic nitrogen fixation does not stimulate soil phosphatase activity under temperate and tropical trees|
|Authors||Emily Jager, Andrew Quebbeman, Amelia A. Wolf, Steven Perakis, Jennifer L. Funk, Duncan N.L. Menge|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center|
Steven S Perakis
Steven S Perakis