Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 54, Issue 6, pp 783–789 | Cite as

Phosphorus addition enhances gross microbial N cycling in phosphorus-poor soils: a 15N study from two long-term fertilization experiments

  • Yi Cheng
  • Jing Wang
  • Nan Sun
  • Minggang Xu
  • Jinbo Zhang
  • Zucong Cai
  • Shenqiang Wang
Short Communication


The tight coupling between nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) suggests that P availability may affect soil microbial N dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems. However, how P addition affects the internal N transformations in P-deficient agricultural soil remains poorly understood. We hypothesized that an increase in gross microbial N rates in P-deficient soil should occur after long-term P inputs in agricultural soils. We thus conducted a 15N pool dilution experiment to quantify the gross microbial N transformation rates after long-term mineral fertilizer applications in an upland fluvo-aquic soil (from Fengqiu with pH 8.55) and upland red soil (from Qiyang with pH 5.49) in China. We found that P addition significantly enhanced the gross N mineralization and immobilization rates when N and K were also applied, probably due to the increased soil total C and N concentrations at both soils. Also, gross nitrification rate was stimulated by P addition, perhaps because of enhanced gross N mineralization rates and associated NH4+ substrate availability. Our results showed that long-term P addition may stimulate soil gross N dynamics and hence increase overall N availability for crops in P-deficient agricultural soils.


Phosphorus deficiency P availability N dynamics Gross N mineralization 15N recovery 



This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant numbers 41671231, 41571294), the High-Level Talent Start-Up Research Project of Nanjing Forestry University (grant numbers GXL2018012), and the National Key Research and Development Program of China (grant numbers 2017YFD0200103, 2017YFD0800106).

Supplementary material

374_2018_1294_MOESM1_ESM.docx (115 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 115 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yi Cheng
    • 1
  • Jing Wang
    • 2
  • Nan Sun
    • 3
  • Minggang Xu
    • 3
  • Jinbo Zhang
    • 4
    • 5
  • Zucong Cai
    • 1
    • 6
  • Shenqiang Wang
    • 7
  1. 1.School of Geography SciencesNanjing Normal UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.College of ForestryNanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional PlanningChinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences/National Engineering Laboratory for Improving Quality of Arable LandBeijingChina
  4. 4.Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and ApplicationNanjingChina
  5. 5.State Key Laboratory Cultivation Base of Geographical Environment Evolution (Jiangsu Province)NanjingChina
  6. 6.Key Laboratory of Virtual Geographic Environment (Nanjing Normal University), Ministry of EducationNanjingChina
  7. 7.State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina

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