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    Rights statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Mo Q, Li Z, Sayer EJ, et al. Foliar phosphorus fractions reveal how tropical plants maintain photosynthetic rates despite low soil phosphorus availability. Funct Ecol. 2019;00:1–11. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13252 which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2435.13252/abstract This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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Foliar phosphorus fractions reveal how tropical plants maintain photosynthetic rates despite low soil phosphorus availability

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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  • Qifeng Mo
  • Zhi'an Li
  • Emma Jane Sayer
  • Hans Lambers
  • Yingwen Li
  • Bi Zou
  • Jianwu Tang
  • Mary Heskel
  • Yongzhen Ding
  • Faming Wang
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/03/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Functional Ecology
Issue number3
Volume33
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)503-513
Publication statusPublished
Early online date24/01/19
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are essential nutrients for plant metabolism, and their availability often limits primary productivity. Whereas the effects of N availability on photosynthetic capacity are well established, we still know relatively little about the effects of P availability at a foliar level, especially in P‐limited tropical forests.
We examined photosynthetic capacity, leaf mass per area (LMA) and foliar P fractions in five woody plant species after 6 years of N and P fertilization in a lowland tropical forest.
Foliar N:P ratios indicated P limitation of the unfertilized plants; accordingly, photosynthetic P‐use efficiency (PPUE) and LMA decreased with P addition, and foliar N and P concentrations increased, whereas N addition had little effect on measured foliar traits. However, P addition enhanced photosynthetic capacity only in one species and not in other four species. We then assessed plant acclimation to low P availability by quantifying four fractions of foliar P representing different functional pools: structural P, metabolic P (including inorganic P), nucleic acid P, and residual P. We found that P addition enhanced the concentrations of metabolic, structural, and nucleic acid P fractions in all species, but the magnitude of the effect was species‐specific.
Our findings indicate that tropical species acclimate to low P availability by altering allocation of foliar P to meet the demand of P for photosynthesis. Importantly, species typical of lowland tropical forests in East Asia maintained their photosynthetic rate under low P availability. We conclude that P limitation of leaf photosynthetic capacity may not be as common as previously assumed due to plant acclimation mechanisms in low‐P tropical forests. Species‐specific strategies to allocate P to different foliar fractions represent a potentially important adaptive mechanism for plants in P‐limited systems.

Bibliographic note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Mo Q, Li Z, Sayer EJ, et al. Foliar phosphorus fractions reveal how tropical plants maintain photosynthetic rates despite low soil phosphorus availability. Funct Ecol. 2019;00:1–11. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13252 which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2435.13252/abstract This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.