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Long-term land use affects phosphorus speciation and the composition of phosphorus cycling genes in agricultural soils

Liu, J., Cade-Menun, B.J., Yang, J., Hu, Y., Liu, C.W., Tremblay, J., LaForge, K., Schellenberg, M., Hamel, C., Bainard, L.D. (2018). Long-term land use affects phosphorus speciation and the composition of phosphorus cycling genes in agricultural soils, 9(JUL),


© 2018 Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Agriculturally-driven land transformation is increasing globally. Improving phosphorus (P) use efficiency to sustain optimum productivity in diverse ecosystems, based on knowledge of soil P dynamics, is also globally important in light of potential shortages of rock phosphate to manufacture P fertilizer. We investigated P chemical speciation and P cycling with solution 31P nuclear magnetic resonance, P K-edge X-ray absorption near-edge structure spectroscopy, phosphatase activity assays, and shotgun metagenomics in soil samples from long-term agricultural fields containing four different land-use types (native and tame grasslands, annual croplands, and roadside ditches). Across these land use types, native and tame grasslands showed high accumulation of organic P, principally orthophosphate monoesters, and high acid phosphomonoesterase activity but the lowest abundance of P cycling genes. The proportion of inositol hexaphosphates (IHP), especially the neo-IHP stereoisomer that likely originates from microbes rather than plants, was significantly increased in native grasslands than croplands. Annual croplands had the largest variances of soil P composition, and the highest potential capacity for P cycling processes based on the abundance of genes coding for P cycling processes. In contrast, roadside soils had the highest soil Olsen-P concentrations, lowest organic P, and highest tricalcium phosphate concentrations, which were likely facilitated by the neutral pH and high exchangeable Ca of these soils. Redundancy analysis demonstrated that IHP by NMR, potential phosphatase activity, Olsen-P, and pH were important P chemistry predictors of the P cycling bacterial community and functional gene composition. Combining chemical and metagenomics results provides important insights into soil P processes and dynamics in different land-use ecosystems.

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