Phosphatase activity does not limit the microbial use of low molecular weight organic-P substrates in soil

Ann Mari Fransson, David L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Plant roots and soil microorganisms contain significant quantities of low molecular weight (MW) phosphorylated nucleosides and sugars. Consequently, upon death these can represent a significant input of organic-P to the soil. Some of these organic-P substrates must first be dephosphorylated by phosphatases before being assimilated by the soil microbial community while others can be taken up directly from soil solution. To determine whether sorption or phosphatase activity was limiting the bioavailability of low MW organic-P in soil we compared the microbial uptake and C mineralization of a range of 14C-labeled organic-P substrates [glucose-6-phosphate, adenosine monophosphate (AMP), adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP)] to that of the parent compounds (adenosine and glucose). In a fertile grassland soil we showed that at low organic-P substrate concentrations (<0.5 mM) phosphatase activity did not limit microbial uptake or mineralization in comparison to their non-phosphorylated counterparts. However, at high substrate concentrations (1-10 mM) the mineralization of the organic-P compounds was significantly lower than that of the non-phosphorylated compounds suggesting that phosphatase activity or microbial transporter capacity limited bioavailability. Sorption to the solid phase followed the series glucose<adenosine<G-6-P<AMP<ADP=ATP. However, sorption of the organic-P compounds to the solid phase did not appear to greatly affect bioavailability. The high adenosine mineralization capacity of the microbial biomass suggests that nucleosides may represent a significant source of C and N to the soil microbial biomass. We conclude that at low organic-P substrate concentrations typical of those in soil, neither phosphatase activity nor sorption greatly limits their bioavailability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1213-1217
Number of pages5
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2007
Externally publishedYes


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