Adenanthos species (Proteaceae) in phosphorus-impoverished environments use a variety of phosphorus-acquisition strategies and achieve high-phosphorus-use efficiency

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Abstract

Background and Aims Soils in south-western Australia are severely phosphorus (P) impoverished, and plants in this region have evolved a variety of P-acquisition strategies. Phosphorus acquisition by Adenanthos cygnorum (Proteaceae) is facilitated by P-mobilizing neighbours which allows it to extend its range of habitats. However, we do not know if other Adenanthos species also exhibit a strategy based on facilitation for P acquisition in P-impoverished environments.Methods We collected leaf and soil samples of Adenanthos barbiger, A. cuneatus, A. meisneri, A. obovatus, A. sericeus and Adenanthos sp. Whicher Range (G.J. Keighery 9736) growing in their natural habitats at different locations within the severely P-limited megadiverse environment of south-western Australia. Hydroponic experiments were conducted to collect the carboxylates exuded by cluster roots. Pot experiments in soil were carried out to measure rhizosheath phosphatase activity.Key Results We found no evidence for facilitation of P uptake in any of the studied Adenanthos species. Like most Proteaceae, A. cuneatus, A. meisneri, A. obovatus, A. sericeus and Adenanthos sp. Whicher Range (G.J. Keighery 9736) expressed P-mining strategies, including the formation of cluster roots. Cluster roots of A. obovatus were less effective than those of the other four Adenanthos species. In contrast to what is known for most Proteaceae, we found no cluster roots for A. barbiger. This species probably expressed a post-fire P-acquisition strategy. All Adenanthos species used P highly efficiently for photosynthesis, like other Proteaceae in similar natural habitats.Conclusions Adenanthos is the first genus of Proteaceae found to express multiple P-acquisition strategies. The diversity of P-acquisition strategies in these Proteaceae, coupled with similarly diverse strategies in Fabaceae and Myrtaceae, demonstrates that caution is needed in making family- or genus-wide extrapolations about the strategies exhibited in severely P-impoverished megadiverse ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-494
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Botany
Volume133
Issue number3
Early online dateFeb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

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