Plant and Soil

, Volume 328, Issue 1–2, pp 133–143 | Cite as

Variation in seedling growth of 11 perennial legumes in response to phosphorus supply

  • Jiayin PangEmail author
  • Mark Tibbett
  • Matthew D. Denton
  • Hans Lambers
  • Kadambot H. M. Siddique
  • Mike D. A. Bolland
  • Clinton K. Revell
  • Megan H. Ryan
Regular Article


Phosphorus (P) deficiency is a major problem for Australian agriculture. Development of new perennial pasture legumes that acquire or use P more efficiently than the current major perennial pasture legume, lucerne (Medicago sativa L.), is urgent. A glasshouse experiment compared the response of ten perennial herbaceous legume species to a series of P supplies ranging from 0 to 384 µg g−1 soil, with lucerne as the control. Under low-P conditions, several legumes produced more biomass than lucerne. Four species (Lotononis bainesii Baker, Kennedia prorepens F.Muell, K. prostrata R.Br, Bituminaria bituminosa (L.) C.H.Stirt) achieved maximum growth at 12 µg P g−1 soil, while other species required 24 µg P g−1. In most tested legumes, biomass production was reduced when P supply was ≥192 µg g−1, due to P toxicity, while L. bainesii and K. prorepens showed reduced biomass when P was ≥24 µg g−1 and K. prostrata at ≥48 µg P g−1 soil. B. bituminosa and Glycine canescens F.J.Herm required less soil P to achieve 0.5 g dry mass than the other species did. Lucerne performed poorly with low P supply and our results suggest that some novel perennial legumes may perform better on low-P soils.


Perennial herbaceous legumes P stress P toxicity P accumulation P-use efficiency Native Australian legumes 



This work was funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), Department of Agricultural and Food Western Australia, and Heritage Seeds. We thank Daniel Real (DAFWA), Richard Snowball (DAFWA), Ron Yates (DAFWA), Steve Hughes (SARDI), and Leonard Song (Heritage seeds) for providing legume seeds and rhizobium. Richard Bennett provided technical advice, and Tammy Edmonds-Tibbett and Tim Morald provided technical assistance.


  1. Allen DC, Jeffery RC (1990) Methods for the analysis of phosphorus in Western Australian soils. In: Report on Investigation No 37. Chemistry Center of Western Australia, PerthGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrew CS, Robins MF (1969) Effect of phosphorus on growth and chemical composition of some tropical pasture legumes. I. growth and critical percentages of phosphorus. Aust J Agric Res 20:665–685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bolland MDA, Paynter BH (1990) Increasing phosphorus concentration in seed of annual pasture legume species increases herbage and seed yields. Plant Soil 125:197–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cocks PS (2001) Ecology of herbaceous perennial legumes: a review of characteristics that may provide management options for the control of salinity and waterlogging in dryland cropping systems. Aust J Agric Res 52:137–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Colwell JD (1963) The estimation of the phosphorus fertiliser requirements of wheat in southern New South Wales by soil analysis. Aust J Exp Agric Anim Husb 3:190–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dear BS, Ewing MA (2008) The search for new pasture plants to achieve more sustainable production systems in southern Australia. Aust J Exp Agric 48:387–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Denton MD, Sasse C, Tibbett M, Ryan MH (2006) Root distributions of Australian herbaceous perennial legumes in response to phosphorus placement. Funct Plant Biol 33:1091–1102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Denton MD, Veneklaas EJ, Freimoser FM, Lambers H (2007) Banksia species (Proteaceae) from severely phosphorus-impoverished soils exhibit extreme efficiency in the use and re-mobilisation of phosphorus. Plant Cell Environ 30:1557–1565CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Dunin FX (1970) Changes in water balance components with pasture management in south-eastern Australia. J Hydrol 10:90–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. George R, Clarke J, English P (2008) Modern and palaeogeographic trends in the salinisation of the Western Australian wheatbelt: a review. Aust J Soil Res 46:751–767CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Handreck KA (1997) Phosphorus requirements of Australian native plants. Aust J Soil Res 35:241–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Heddle EM, Specht RL (1975) Dark Island Heath (90-Mile Plain, South-Australia). 8. Effect of fertilizers on composition and growth, 1950–1972. Aust J Bot 23:151–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hill JO, Simpson RJ, Moore AD, Chapman DF (2006) Morphology and response of roots of pasture species to phosphorus and nitrogen nutrition. Plant Soil 286:7–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Humphries AW, Auricht GC (2001) Breeding lucerne for Australia’s southern dryland cropping environments. Aust J Agric Res 52:153–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Islam M, Turner DW, Adams MA (1999) Phosphorus availability and the growth, mineral composition and nutritive value of ephemeral forbs and associated perennials from the Pilbara, Western Australia. Aust J Exp Agric 39:149–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jeschke WD, Pate JS (1995) Mineral nutrition and transport in xylem and phloem of Banksia prionotes (Proteaceae), a tree with dimorphic root morphology. J Exp Bot 46:895–905CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kuo J, Hocking PJ, Pate JS (1982) Nutrient reserves in seeds of selected Proteaceous species from southwestern Australia. Aust J Bot 30:231–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lambers H, Shane MW, Cramer MD, Pearse SJ, Veneklaas EJ (2006) Root structure and functioning for efficient acquisition of phosphorus: matching morphological and physiological traits. Ann Bot 98:693–713CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Liao M, Hocking PJ, Dong B, Delhaize E, Richardson AE, Ryan PR (2008) Variation in early phosphorus-uptake efficiency among wheat genotypes grown on two contrasting Australian soils. Aust J Agric Res 59:157–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Loo C, Dolling PJ, Mokhtari S (2006) Lucerne. In: Moore G, Sanford P, Wiley T (eds) Perennial pastures for Western Australia, bulletin 4690. Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, South Perth, pp 59–75Google Scholar
  21. Milberg P, Lamont BB (1997) Seed/cotyledon size and nutrient content play a major role in early performance of species on nutrient-poor soils. New Phytol 137:665–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Milberg P, Perez-Fernandez MA, Lamont BB (1998) Seedling growth response to added nutrients depends on seed size in three woody genera. J Ecol 86:624–632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Motomizu S, Wakimoto T, Toei K (1983) Spectrophotometric determination of phosphate in river waters with molybdate and malachite green. Analyst 108:361–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Parks SE, Haigh AM, Cresswell GC (2000) Stem tissue phosphorus as an index of the phosphorus status of Banksia ericifolia L. f. Plant Soil 227:59–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Reuter DJ, Robinson JB (1997) Plant analysis: an interpretation manual, 2nd edn. CSIRO, CollingwoodGoogle Scholar
  26. Rayment GE, Higginson FR (1992) Australian laboratory handbook of soil and water chemical methods. Inkata, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  27. Ryan MH, Ehrenberg S, Bennett RG, Tibbett M (2009) Putting the P in Ptilotus: a phosphorus accumulating herb native to Australia. Ann Bot 103:901–911CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Schachtman DP, Reid RJ, Ayling SM (1998) Phosphorus uptake by plants: from soil to cell. Plant Physiol 116:447–453CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Searle PL (1984) The berthelot or indophenol reaction and its use in the analytical chemistry of nitrogen. Analyst 109:549–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Shane MW, McCully ME, Lambers H (2004) Tissue and cellular phosphorus storage during development of phosphorus toxicity in Hakea prostrata (Proteaceae). J Exp Bot 55:1033–1044CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Steen I (1998) Phosphorus availability in the 21st century: management of a non-renewable resource. Phosphorus Potassium 217:25–31Google Scholar
  32. Tieu A, Dixon KW, Meney KA, Sivasithamparam K (2001) The interaction of heat and smoke in the release of seed dormancy in seven species from southwestern Western Australia. Ann Bot 88:259–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiayin Pang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark Tibbett
    • 2
  • Matthew D. Denton
    • 3
  • Hans Lambers
    • 1
  • Kadambot H. M. Siddique
    • 4
  • Mike D. A. Bolland
    • 1
    • 5
  • Clinton K. Revell
    • 1
    • 6
  • Megan H. Ryan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Plant BiologyThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Land RehabilitationThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Primary IndustriesRutherglenAustralia
  4. 4.Institute of AgricultureThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Agriculture and Food Western AustraliaBunburyAustralia
  6. 6.Department of Agriculture and Food Western AustraliaSouth PerthAustralia

Personalised recommendations