, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 175-191

First online:

Regulation of soil phosphatase and chitinase activityby N and P availability

  • Lydia P. OlanderAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, StanfordUniversity Email author 
  • , Peter M. VitousekAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, StanfordUniversity

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Soil microorganisms and plants produce enzymes thatmineralize organically bound nutrients. When nutrientavailability is low, the biota may be able to increase production ofthese enzymes to enhance the supply of inorganicnitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Regulation of enzyme productionmay be a point where N and P cyclesinteract. We measured acid phosphatase and chitinase(N-acetyl ß-D-glucosaminide) activity in soilacross a chronosequence in Hawaii where N and Pavailability varies substantially among sites and longterm fertilizer plots had been maintained for over 4years.

Phosphatase activity was high at all sites. Chitinaseactivity decreased significantly as age and Navailability increased across the chronosequence.Phosphorus addition suppressed phosphatase activity atall sites, while N addition increased phosphataseactivity at the young, N-limited site. In contrast,N addition repressed chitinase activity only at the Nlimited young site, and P additions had no effect onchitinase activity. These results suggest that theregulatory relationship between nutrient supply andnutrient mineralization are asymmetric for N and P,and that the differences could help to explaindifferences observed in patterns of N and Pavailability.

acid phosphatase chitinase BD-glucosaminide Hawaii nitrogen and phosphorus availability potential enzyme activity soil