Xylomelum occidentale (Proteaceae) accesses relatively mobile soil organic phosphorus without releasing carboxylates

  • Hongtao Zhong (Creator)
  • Jun Zhou (Contributor)
  • Azrul Azmi (Creator)
  • André Arruda (Creator)
  • Ashlea Doolette (Creator)
  • Ronald Smernik (Creator)
  • Hans Lambers (Creator)
  • Azrul Wan Azmi (Contributor)
  • Andre Jardim Arruda (Creator)
  • Ashlea L Doolette (Creator)
  • Ronald J Smernik (Creator)



1. Hundreds of Proteaceae species in Australia and South Africa typically grow on phosphorus (P)-impoverished soils, exhibiting a carboxylate-releasing P-mobilising strategy. In the Southwest Australian Biodiversity Hotspot, two Xylomelum (Proteaceae) species are widely distributed, but restricted within that distribution. 2. We grew X. occidentale in hydroponics at 1 μM P. Leaves, seeds, rhizosheath and bulk soil were collected in natural habitats. 3. Xylomelum occidentale did not produce functional cluster roots and occupied soils that are somewhat less P-impoverished than those in typical Proteaceae habitats in the region. Based on measurements of foliar manganese concentrations (a proxy for rhizosphere carboxylate concentrations) and P fractions in bulk and rhizosheath soil, we conclude that X. occidentale accesses organic P, without releasing carboxylates. Solution 31P-NMR revealed which organic P forms X. occidentale accessed. 4. Xylomelum occidentale uses a strategy that differs fundamentally from that typical in Proteaceae, accessing soil organic P without carboxylates. We surmise that this novel strategy is likely expressed also in co-occurring non-Proteaceae that lack a carboxylate-exuding strategy, and plants in similar habitats. These co-occurring species are unlikely to benefit from mycorrhizal associations, because plant-available soil P concentrations are too low. 5. Synthesis. Our findings show the first field evidence of effectively utilising soil organic P by X. occidentale without carboxylate exudation and explain their relatively restricted distribution in an old P-impoverished landscape, contributing to a better understanding of how diverse P-acquisition strategies coexist in a megadiverse ecosystem.
Date made available24 Jul 2020

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