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The role of microorganisms in mediating and facilitating the uptake of plant nutrients from soil

Summary

No root systems in nature are without a microbial population. These may be freeliving or symbiotic.

The incidence and nutrition of the freeliving microorganisms is discussed. Shortage of substrate makes it unlikely that the N-fixers in the population can fix useful amounts of N. There is a possibility that P supply is improved, but an analysis of possible processes shows them to be rather unlikely, and evidence for them to be poor. Manganese and iron uptake can be altered by microbial activity. Growth of plants can be affected by non-nutritional bacterial effects.

The ecology of Rhizobium in the soil is briefly discussed, and the varying needs of different identified strains is stressed.

Mycorrhizal infection of plants leads to large growth increases in appropriate conditions. This is almost always linked to increased P uptake, but zinc and copper nutrition can also be improved. The processes involved are briefly discussed. Rapid and extensive infection is important; it is very sensitive to temperature. New modelling methods are now becoming available to measure the behaviour of the fungal infections. The microorganisms require C compounds from the plant, and new measurements of this cost are discussed. The possibility of practical use of mycorrhizal fungi seem to be improving.

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Tinker, P.B. The role of microorganisms in mediating and facilitating the uptake of plant nutrients from soil. Plant Soil 76, 77–91 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02205569

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Key words

  • Microorganisms
  • Mycorrhizas
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Phosphate uptake
  • Rhizosphere