Plant and Soil

, Volume 376, Issue 1–2, pp 165–175 | Cite as

Uptake of zinc and phosphorus by plants is affected by zinc fertiliser material and arbuscular mycorrhizas

  • Stephanie J. Watts-WilliamsEmail author
  • Terence W. Turney
  • Antonio F. Patti
  • Timothy R. Cavagnaro
Regular Article


Background and Aims

Water solubility of zinc (Zn) fertilisers affects their plant availability. Further, simultaneous application of Zn and phosphorus (P) fertiliser can have antagonistic effects on plant Zn uptake. Arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM) can improve plant Zn and P uptake. We conducted a glasshouse experiment to test the effect of different Zn fertiliser materials, in conjunction with P fertiliser application, and colonisation by AM, on plant nutrition and biomass.


We grew a mycorrhiza-defective tomato genotype (rmc) and its mycorrhizal wild-type progenitor (76R) in soil with six different Zn fertilisers ranging in water solubility (Zn sulphate, Zn oxide, Zn oxide (nano), Zn phosphate, Zn carbonate, Zn phosphate carbonate), and supplemental P. We measured plant biomass, Zn and P contents, mycorrhizal colonisation and water use efficiency.


Whereas water solubility of the Zn fertilisers was not correlated with plant biomass or Zn uptake, plant Zn and P contents differed among Zn fertiliser treatments. Plant Zn and P uptake was enhanced when supplied as Zn phosphate carbonate. Mycorrhizal plants took up more P than non-mycorrhizal plants; the reverse was true for Zn.


Zinc fertiliser composition and AM have a profound effect on plant Zn and P uptake.


Zinc fertiliser Phosphorus fertiliser Arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM) Water use efficiency Mycorrhiza defective tomato mutant (rmcSolanum lycopersicum (Tomato) 



The authors wish to thank Dr. Jessica Drake and other members of the ‘Cav-Lab’ for valuable discussions. We also gratefully acknowledge A/Prof. Susan Barker and Prof. Sally Smith for continued access to the rmc and 76R genotypes of tomato. This research was in part funded by the Monash University, School of Biological Sciences. TRC also wishes to acknowledge the Australian Research Council for financial support (FT120100463).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie J. Watts-Williams
    • 1
    Email author
  • Terence W. Turney
    • 2
    • 3
  • Antonio F. Patti
    • 2
  • Timothy R. Cavagnaro
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.School of ChemistryMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Materials EngineeringMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  4. 4.School of Agriculture, Food and WineUniversity of AdelaideGlen OsmondAustralia

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