Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 52, Issue 6, pp 825–839 | Cite as

Carbon demand drives microbial mineralization of organic phosphorus during the early stage of soil development

  • Jipeng Wang
  • Yanhong WuEmail author
  • Jun Zhou
  • Haijian Bing
  • Hongyang Sun
Original Paper


Despite that organic phosphorus (Po) is a source of bioavailable P during the early stage of soil development, it remains unclear whether P availability or organic carbon (C) mineralization is the main regulator of Po mineralization. In this study, the P availability (labile inorganic P, Pi) and the potential organic C mineralization (β-glucosidase activity) were investigated at the Hailuogou Chronosequence and a reference site (35–125 and ∼1400 years after glacier retreat, respectively) to decipher their relationships with the potential Po mineralization (acid and alkaline phosphomonoesterase activities). Labile Pi displayed no trend in the soil profile, whereas it was significantly higher at the reference site than the young sites. Enzyme activities decreased down the soil profile, but this trend weakened for specific activities (enzyme activity per microbial biomass C). Enzyme activities and specific activities displayed no trend with the succession stage. Potential Po mineralization was more related to potential organic C mineralization (R 2 = 0.41–0.69, p < 0.0001) than P availability (R 2 = 0.05–0.09, p ≤ 0.05). By increasing the specific activity of β-glucosidase, the microbial biomass C:P ratio decreased to reach the value of 8:1. Probably, the phosphate in the excess of microbial demand was released as the by-product of C mineralization. At the young sites of the chronosequence, the significant correlation between Po and C concentrations in the surface mineral horizon (R 2 = 0.85, p < 0.0001) suggested that the mineralizations of Po and organic C were linked to each other. The results suggested that the demand for C may drive the microbial mineralization of soil Po during the early stage of soil development, and the phosphate released by the Po mineralization may serve as a potential source of labile Pi for plants.


Hailuogou Chronosequence Carbon and phosphorus mineralization Phosphorus availability Acid and alkaline phosphomonoesterase β-glucosidase 



This research was co-funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41272200 and 41401253).

Supplementary material

374_2016_1123_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.2 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1231 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jipeng Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yanhong Wu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jun Zhou
    • 1
  • Haijian Bing
    • 1
  • Hongyang Sun
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Ecological Regulation, Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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