, Volume 186, Issue 3, pp 633–643 | Cite as

Phosphorus allocation and phosphatase activity in grasses with different growth rates

  • Leandro Bittencourt de Oliveira
  • Anderson Cesar Ramos MarquesEmail author
  • Fernando Luiz Ferreira de Quadros
  • Júlia Gomes Farias
  • Rogério Piccin
  • Gustavo Brunetto
  • Fernando Teixeira Nicoloso
Physiological ecology - original research


Different growth rates of grasses from South American natural grasslands are adaptations to soils of low fertility. Grasses with fast growth rate are species with an accumulation of nutrients in soluble forms, with a high metabolic rate. This work aimed to study whether grasses with different growth rates have different phosphorus (P) uptake and efficiency of P use with high and low P availability in soil, as well as whether phosphatase activity is related to the species growth rate and variations in P biochemical forms in the tissues. Three native grasses (Axonopus affinis, Paspalum notatum, and Andropogon lateralis) were grown in pots with soil. Along plant growth, biomass production and its structural components were measured, as well as leaf acid phosphatase activity and leaf P chemical fractions. At 40 days of growth, leaf acid phosphatase activity declined by about 20–30% with an increase of P availability in soil for A. affinis and P. notatum, respectively. Under both soil P levels, P. notatum showed the highest plant total biomass, leaf dry weight and highest P use efficiency. A. affinis presented the higher P uptake efficiency and soluble organic P concentration in the leaf tissues. A. lateralis showed P-Lipid concentration 1.6 and 1.3 times higher than A. affinis and P. notatum, respectively. In conclusion, acid phosphatase activity in grass of higher growth rate is related to higher remobilization of P due to higher demand, as in A. affinis, and higher growth rates are associated with higher P uptake efficiency.


Leaf traits Nutrient use efficiency P biochemical form P remobilization South American grasslands 



We thank Dr. Pablo Cruz (INRA, France), Dr. Tales Tiecher (UFRGS, Brazil), and Giselle Lee (Arizona State University–EUA) for the review with helpful suggestions for improving the manuscript.

Author contribution statement

LBO, ACRM, RP, and JGF performed the experiment, laboratory analyses, and statistical analyses. FLFQ, FTN, and GB organized the experiment and helped to write the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leandro Bittencourt de Oliveira
    • 1
  • Anderson Cesar Ramos Marques
    • 2
    Email author
  • Fernando Luiz Ferreira de Quadros
    • 1
  • Júlia Gomes Farias
    • 2
  • Rogério Piccin
    • 3
  • Gustavo Brunetto
    • 3
  • Fernando Teixeira Nicoloso
    • 2
  1. 1.LEPAN-Laboratory of Ecology of Natural Grassland, Department of Animal ScienceUniversidade Federal de Santa MariaSanta MariaBrazil
  2. 2.FISIOPLANT-Laboratory of Plant Physiology, Department of BiologyUniversidade Federal de Santa MariaSanta MariaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Soil ScienceUniversidade Federal de Santa MariaSanta MariaBrazil

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