Plant and Soil

, Volume 417, Issue 1–2, pp 261–274 | Cite as

Increasing acidity of rain in subtropical tea plantation alters aluminum and nutrient distributions at the root-soil interface and in plant tissues

  • Xiao-Fei Hu
  • Fu-Sheng Chen
  • Michael L. Wine
  • Xiang-Min Fang
Regular Article


Background and aims

Acid rain alters aluminum (Al) and nutrient cycling in tea (Camellia sinensis) plantations. However, the underlying mechanisms of the interaction among Al, nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) dynamics in response to increasing acidity of rain remain unclear.


A typical tea plantation was selected for an experimental treatment by pH 4.5, 3.5, and 2.5 acid rains and control in southern China. After 3 years, rhizosphere and bulk soils were collected to analyze extractable Al fractions and available nutrients. Roots, stems, young and old twigs, tea and mature leaves were sampled to measure total Al, total N and P concentrations.


Extractable Al fractions in rhizosphere soils generally increased with increasing rain acidity until pH 3.5 and dropped treated by pH 2.5 acid rain. In contrast, NO3 -N, mineral N and available P in rhizosphere soils monotonically decreased with increasing acidity. Average total Al and total P in plant tissues, respectively increased and decreased with increasing acidity. Soluble sugar in tea leaves was directly and inversely related to Al/N and N/P, respectively. Free amino acids were inversely related to Al/P.


Prolonged elevation of rain acidity altered Al and nutrient stoichiometry in rhizosphere soils and plant tissues, and severe acid rain decreased tea quality.


Aboveground-belowground linkage Aluminum Camellia sinensis Rhizosphere Simulated acid rain Stoichiometry 



This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31560152, 31260199 and 31060081). We greatly appreciate Jing Li and Xi Chen for their help in field sampling and sample analysis.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiao-Fei Hu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fu-Sheng Chen
    • 3
  • Michael L. Wine
    • 4
  • Xiang-Min Fang
    • 1
  1. 1.Jiangxi Provincial Key Laboratory of Silviculture, College of ForestryJiangxi Agricultural UniversityNanchangChina
  2. 2.Management School of Nanchang UniversityNanchangChina
  3. 3.Jiangxi Agricultural UniversityNanchangChina
  4. 4.Earth and Environmental ScienceNew Mexico Institute of Mining and TechnologySocorroUSA

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