The present study examined the effect of phosphorus (P) limitation on cluster root formation and exudation of carboxylates by N-2-fixing white lupin (Lupinus albus L. cv. Kiev) grown in a P-deficient sandy soil. Plants received 10 (limited P) or 200 mug P g(-1) soil as FePO4 (adequate P) and were grown in a phytotron at 20/12 degreesC (12/12 h) for 76 days in soil columns. Cluster root formation was assessed and root exudates were collected at 9-day intervals. Shoot and root dry weights were higher in plants grown in the adequate-P compared to the limited-P treatment for 67 days. No clear difference in the total root length was observed between two P treatments before day 58. However, the specific root length increased rapidly from 17 m g(-1) DW at day 40 to 28 m g(-1) at day 49 in the P-limited plants, but decreased in the P-adequate plants. The effect of P limitation on enhancement of cluster root formation was observed from day 40 and reached the maximum at day 58. The number of cluster roots was negatively correlated with the P concentration in both roots and shoots. Phosphorus limitation increased exudation of citrate from day 40. The exudation of citrate displayed a cyclic pattern throughout the experiment, and appeared related to internal P concentration in plants, particularly P concentration in shoots. The sorption of exogenously added citrate in the soil was also examined. The amount of extractable citrate remained unchanged for 2 h, but decreased thereafter, suggesting that the soil had a low capacity to sorb citrate, and the rate of its decomposition by microorganisms was slow. Collecting solution leached through a soil column is a simple and reliable method to acquire root exudates from white lupin grown in soil. The results suggest that formation of cluster roots and exudation of citrate in white lupin are regulated by P concentration in shoots.