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Soil Syst. 2018, 2(4), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems2040056

Biologically Available Phosphorus in Biocrust-Dominated Soils of the Chihuahuan Desert

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968, USA
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Received: 10 September 2018 / Revised: 27 September 2018 / Accepted: 3 October 2018 / Published: 10 October 2018
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Abstract

In desert soils, phosphorus (P) cycling is controlled by both geochemical and biological factors and remains less studied than nitrogen and carbon. We examined these P cycling factors in the context of biological soil crusts (biocrusts), which are important drivers of nutrient cycling in drylands and have the potential to release bound labile P. We adopted the biologically-based P (BBP) method, which allows examination of biologically relevant P fractions. The BBP method incorporates four extractions: dilute calcium chloride (CaCl2), citric acid, phosphatase enzymes, and hydrochloric acid (HCl). We coupled the extractions with a 33P-labeled orthophosphate addition and incubation to assess the fate of freshly available phosphate (PO43−). Low P concentrations in the dilute CaCl2 extractions suggest that drylands lack accessible P in the soil solution, while higher amounts in the citric acid- and enzyme-extractable pools suggest that dryland microbes may acquire P through the release of organic acids and phosphatases. The addition of 33PO43− was, within 24 h, quickly adsorbed onto mineral surfaces or incorporated into hydrolysable organic compounds. Areas with biocrusts showed overall lower P concentrations across all four extractable pools. This suggests that biocrust organisms may prevent P adsorption onto mineral surfaces by incorporating P into their biomass. Overall, our results indicate that organisms may have to employ several viable strategies, including organic acid and enzyme production, to access P in dryland soils. View Full-Text
Keywords: phosphorus; biocrust; dryland; Chihuahuan desert; 33P radiolabel; BBP; Jornada experimental range; New Mexico; LTER phosphorus; biocrust; dryland; Chihuahuan desert; 33P radiolabel; BBP; Jornada experimental range; New Mexico; LTER
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Crain, G.M.; McLaren, J.R.; Brunner, B.; Darrouzet-Nardi, A. Biologically Available Phosphorus in Biocrust-Dominated Soils of the Chihuahuan Desert. Soil Syst. 2018, 2, 56.

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