, Volume 159, Issue 4, pp 717–724 | Cite as

Phosphorus reserves increase grass regrowth after defoliation

  • Mariano Oyarzabal
  • Martín Oesterheld
Physiological Ecology - Original Paper


Accumulation of P above levels that promote growth, a common plant response called “luxury consumption”, can be considered as a form of reserve to support future growth when the nutrient can subsequently be mobilized. However, the effect of P reserves on regrowth following defoliation has not been demonstrated. We tested the hypothesis that P luxury consumption increases plant tolerance to defoliation. We performed two experiments with four grass species from a continuously grazed temperate grassland in the Flooding Pampa (Argentina). The first experiment, aimed at generating P luxury consumption by fertilization, resulted in one species (Sporobolus indicus) showing luxury consumption. In this way, we were able to obtain plants of S. indicus with similar biomass but contrasting amounts of P reserves. The second experiment evaluated the subsequent regrowth following defoliation on a P-free medium of these plants differing in P reserves. Regrowth was larger for plants that had shown P luxury consumption during a previous period than for plants with lower levels of P reserves. During regrowth these plants showed a clear pattern of P remobilization from the stubble, crown, and root compartments to the regrowing tissue, in addition to a likely reutilization of P present in leaf-growth zones. This work is the first showing that high levels of P reserves can confer tolerance to defoliation by promoting compensatory growth under P deficiency.


Compensatory growth Luxury consumption Mineral nutrition Storage Tolerance 



This research was funded by grants from the University of Buenos Aires (G071) and the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (PICT 08-12186 and 32415). M. Oyarzabal was supported by a doctoral fellowship from CONICET (Argentina). We thank Dr. Gerardo Rubio for initial discussions and Dr. Agustín Grimoldi, Prof. Dr. Russell Monson, Prof. Dr. Hermann Heilmeier, and two reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript. Chemical determinations were made by the Laboratorio de Servicios Analíticos Especiales (LABFAUBA), Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IFEVA-Facultad de AgronomíaUniversidad de Buenos Aires/CONICETBuenos AiresArgentina

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