Effect of P stoichiometry on the abundance of nitrogen-cycle genes in phosphorus-limited paddy soil

Xiaomeng Wei, Yajun Hu, Peiqin Peng, Zhenke Zhu, Cornelius Talade Atere, A.G. O’Donnell, Jinshui Wu, Tida Ge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have shown that phosphorus addition to P-limited soils increases gaseous N loss. A possible explanation for this phenomenon is element stoichiometry (specifically of C:N:P) modifying linked nutrient cycling, leading to enhanced nitrification and denitrification. In this study, we investigated how P stoichiometry influenced the dynamics of soil N-cycle functional genes. Rice seedlings were planted in P-poor soils and incubated with or without P application. Quantitative PCR was then applied to analyze the abundance of ammonia-oxidizing (amoA) and denitrifying (narG nirK, nirS, nosZ) genes in soil. P addition reduced bacterial amoA abundance but increased denitrifying gene abundance. We suggest this outcome is due to P-induced shifts in soil C:P and N:P ratios that limited ammonia oxidization while enhancing P availability for denitrification. Under P application, the rhizosphere effect raised ammonia-oxidizing bacterial abundance (amoA gene) and reduced nirK, nirS, and nosZ in rhizosphere soils. The change likely occurred through greater C input and O2 release from roots, thus altering C availability and redox conditions for microbes. Our results show that P application enhances gaseous N loss potential in paddy fields mainly through stimulating denitrifier growth. We conclude that nutrient availability and elemental stoichiometry are important in regulating microbial gene responses, thereby influencing key ecosystem processes such as denitrification. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-776
Number of pages10
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


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