, Volume 181, Issue 2, pp 369–379 | Cite as

Phosphorus resorption by young beech trees and soil phosphatase activity as dependent on phosphorus availability

Physiological ecology – Original research


Motivated by decreasing foliar phosphorus (P) concentrations in Fagus sylvatica L. forests, we studied P recycling depending on P fertilization in mesocosms with juvenile trees and soils of two contrasting F. sylvatica L. forests in a greenhouse. We hypothesized that forests with low soil P availability are better adapted to recycle P than forests with high soil P availability. The P resorption efficiency from senesced leaves was significantly higher at the P-poor site (70 %) than at the P-rich site (48 %). P fertilization decreased the resorption efficiency significantly at the P-poor site to 41 %, while it had no effect at the P-rich site. Both acid and alkaline phosphatase activity were higher in the rhizosphere of the P-poor than of the P-rich site by 53 and 27 %, respectively, while the activities did not differ in the bulk soil. Fertilization decreased acid phosphatase activity significantly at the P-poor site in the rhizosphere, but had no effect on the alkaline, i.e., microbial, phosphatase activity at any site. Acid phosphatase activity in the P-poor soil was highest in the rhizosphere, while in the P-rich soil, it was highest in the bulk soil. We conclude that F. sylvatica resorbed P more efficiently from senescent leaves at low soil P availability than at high P availability and that acid phosphatase activity in the rhizosphere but not in the bulk soil was increased at low P availability. Moreover, we conclude that in the P-rich soil, microbial phosphatases contributed more strongly to total phosphatase activity than plant phosphatases.


Forest nutrition Nutrient resorption Rhizosphere Phosphomonoesterase Plant–microbe interaction 



We would like to thank Karin Söllner and Uwe Hell for technical support. Furthermore, we thank the German Research Foundation (DFG) for financial support of the project SP1389/4-1 within the framework of the DFG priority program SPP1685 Ecosystem nutrition.

Author contribution statement

M. S. designed the experiment; K. H. and C. H. performed the experiment; K. H., C. H. and M. S. conducted lab and data analyses; M. S. wrote the manuscript, and C. H. and K. H. provided editorial advice.

Supplementary material

442_2016_3581_MOESM1_ESM.docx (550 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 550 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Soil EcologyBayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER), University of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

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