Plant and Soil

, Volume 354, Issue 1–2, pp 283–298 | Cite as

Phosphorus pools and other soil properties in the rhizosphere of wheat and legumes growing in three soils in monoculture or as a mixture of wheat and legume

  • Ying Wang
  • Petra MarschnerEmail author
  • Fusuo Zhang
Regular Article


Background and aims

Phosphorus and nitrogen availability and forms are affected by soil properties as well as by plant species and further modulated by soil microbes. Additionally, close contact of the roots of two plant species may affect concentrations and forms of N and P. The aim of this study was to assess properties related to N and P cycling in the rhizosphere of wheat and legumes grown in monoculture or in wheat/legume mixtures in three soils differing in pH.


Faba bean, white lupin and wheat were grown in three soils differing in pH (4.8, 7.5 and 8.8) in monoculture or in mixed culture of wheat and legumes. Rhizosphere soil was collected at flowering and analyzed for P pools by sequential fractionation, available N as well as community structure of bacteria, fungi, ammonia oxidizers, N2-fixers and P mobilizers by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)—denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE).


Soil type was the major factor determining plant growth, rhizosphere nutrient dynamics and microbial community structure. Among the crop species, only faba bean had a significant effect on nitrification potential activity (PNA) in all three soils with lower activity compared to the unplanted soil. Soil type and plant spieces affected the community composition of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOB), ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA), N2-fixers (nifH), P mobilizers (ALP gene) and fungi, but not that of bacteria. Among the microbial groups, the AOA and nifH community composition were most strongly affected by crop species, cropping system and soil type, suggesting that these groups are quite sensitive to environmental conditions. All plants depleted some labile as well as non-labile P pools whereas the less labile organic P pools (NaOH extractable P pools, acid extractable P pools) accumulated in the rhizosphere of legumes. The pattern of depletion and accumulation of some P pools differed between monoculture and mixed culture as well as among soils.


Plant growth and rhizosphere properties were mainly affected by soil type, but also by crop species whereas cropping system had the least effect. Wheat and the legumes depleted less labile inorganic P pools in some soils whereas less labile organic P pools (NaOH extractable P, acid extractable P) accumulated in the rhizosphere of legumes.


Legumes Microbial community Mixed culture Nitrogen Phosphorus pools pH Rhizosphere Wheat 



We thank Collin Rivers for his help of collecting the soils from Monarto and Mt. Bold and Sean Mason for collecting the Langhorne Creek soil. We are grateful to the financial support from the Australian Research Council, and the China Scholarship Council.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and Environmental SciencesChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, The Waite Research InstituteThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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