Data from: Greater root phosphatase activity in nitrogen-fixing rhizobial but not actinorhizal plants with declining phosphorus availability

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1. The abundance of nitrogen (N)-fixing plants in ecosystems where phosphorus (P) limits plant productivity poses a paradox because N fixation entails a high P cost. One explanation for this paradox is that the N-fixing strategy allows greater root phosphatase activity to enhance P acquisition from organic sources, but evidence to support this contention is limited. 2. We measured root phosphomonoesterase (PME) activity of 10 N-fixing species, including rhizobial legumes and actinorhizal Allocasuarina species, and eight non-N-fixing species across a retrogressive soil chronosequence showing a clear shift from N to P limitation of plant growth and representing a strong natural gradient in P availability. 3. Legumes showed greater root PME activity than non-legumes, with the difference between these two groups increasing markedly as soil P availability declined. By contrast, root PME activity of actinorhizal species was always lower than that of co-occurring legumes and not different from non-N-fixing plants. 4. The difference in root PME activity between legumes and actinorhizal plants was not reflected in a greater or similar reliance on N fixation for N acquisition by actinorhizal species compared to co-occurring legumes. 5. Synthesis. Our results support the idea that N-fixing legumes show high root phosphatase activity, especially at low soil P availability, but suggest that this is a phylogenetically conserved trait rather than one directly linked to their N-fixation capacity.,PME_JEcol_myco_dataRoot mycorrhizal colonisation data. Root materials were field-collected along the Jurien Bay dune chronosequence in Western Australia in 2013. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi root colonisation were determined using gridline-intersect method at 200× magnification, while all viable root tips were scored for ectomycorrhizal fungi root colonisation or non-mycorrhizal colonisation. This PME_JEcol_myco_data.csv file was created using Microsoft Excel 2013. See readme file for descriptions of (abbreviated) column headings.PME_JEcol_main_dataAll data, except mycorrhizal colonisation data, collected for the analyses presented in this paper. All plant materials were field-collected along the Jurien Bay dune chronosequence in Western Australia in 2013. Data in this file include: root phosphomonoesterase (PME) activity (dry and fresh weight basis), leaf [N], leaf [P], leaf N:P, leaf δ15N and %Ndfa. This PME_JEcol_main_data.csv file was created using Microsoft Excel 2013. See readme file for descriptions of (abbreviated) column headings.,
Date made available20 Feb 2018
PublisherDryad Digital Repository

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