Soil Biology Volume 26, 2011, pp 37-57
Date: 16 Oct 2010

Characterization of Phosphorus Forms in Soil Microorganisms

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Characterization of phosphorus (P) forms in soil microorganisms is a novel approach to reach a better understanding of the role of bacteria and fungi as sink and source of P. After an overview of methods for cultivation of microorganisms, extraction from soil, and chemical analysis, two case studies are presented, one on pure cultures and one on microbial cells extracted from soil. Analysis of pure cultures of bacteria and fungi by 31P NMR suggested a predominantly fungal origin of pyrophosphate, polyphosphate, and phosphonates in soils. The first report of P forms in microbial cells extracted from soil showed similar concentrations of total P, P in phospholipids, and DNA per cell as found in aquatic microorganisms, but lower concentrations of RNA. Cell P concentrations tended to increase upon carbon addition to a tropical Ferralsol, whereas sole or additional P amendment had no significant effect. The scope and limits of this new approach are discussed.