Facilitation of phosphorus acquisition by Banksia attenuata allows Adenanthos cygnorum (Proteaceae) to extend its range into severely phosphorus-impoverished habitats

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Background and aimsIn extremely low-phosphorus (P) environments, most Proteaceae exude carboxylates from cluster roots. These carboxylates mobilise inorganic P which leads to a relatively high leaf manganese concentration ([Mn]). However, we found that Adenanthos cygnorum (Proteaceae) in a low-P habitat did not invariably have a high leaf [Mn] in south-western Australia. We aimed to explore how A. cygnorum acquires P in severely P-impoverished habitats.MethodsWe determined soil P concentrations and leaf [Mn] of A. cygnorum growing within 1 m and more than 10 m away from other large Proteaceae. We also grew plants in a glasshouse to determine its root carboxylate exudation and rhizosheath phosphatase activity.ResultsAdenanthos cygnorum did not produce functional cluster roots. It depended on carboxylates released by a P-mobilising neighbour, Banksia attenuata (Proteaceae), to acquire P when growing in severely P-impoverished soil (< 8 mg P kg(- 1) dry soil). In slightly less P-impoverished soil (> 11 mg P kg(- 1) dry soil), phosphatases released by A. cygnorum hydrolysed sufficient organic P that was relatively mobile.ConclusionThe reliance on facilitation of P acquisition in A cygnorum depended strongly on location. We demonstrated the exudation of phosphatases, which mobilise inorganic P; this P was adequate for growth when there was sufficient organic P in soil. Facilitation of P acquisition by B. attenuata allowed A. cygnorum to extend its range into severely P-impoverished habitats where it cannot exist without facilitation. This knowledge provides a better understanding of the diversity of P-acquisition strategies in severely P-impoverished environments.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalPlant and Soil
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Feb 2023

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