Articles | Volume 11, issue 23
Research article
04 Dec 2014
Research article |  | 04 Dec 2014

Forms of organic phosphorus in wetland soils

A. W. Cheesman, B. L. Turner, and K. R. Reddy

Abstract. Phosphorus (P) cycling in freshwater wetlands is dominated by biological mechanisms, yet there has been no comprehensive examination of the forms of biogenic P (i.e., forms derived from biological activity) in wetland soils. We used solution 31P NMR spectroscopy to identify and quantify P forms in surface soils of 28 palustrine wetlands spanning a range of climatic, hydrogeomorphic, and vegetation types. Total P concentrations ranged between 51 and 3516 μg P g-1, of which an average of 58% was extracted in a single-step NaOH–EDTA procedure. The extracts contained a broad range of P forms, including phosphomonoesters (averaging 24% of the total soil P), phosphodiesters (averaging 10% of total P), phosphonates (up to 4% of total P), and both pyrophosphate and long-chain polyphosphates (together averaging 6% of total P). Soil P composition was found to be dependant upon two key biogeochemical properties: organic matter content and pH. For example, stereoisomers of inositol hexakisphosphate were detected exclusively in acidic soils with high mineral content, while phosphonates were detected in soils from a broad range of vegetation and hydrogeomorphic types but only under acidic conditions. Conversely inorganic polyphosphates occurred in a broad range of wetland soils, and their abundance appears to reflect more broadly that of a "substantial" and presumably active microbial community with a significant relationship between total inorganic polyphosphates and microbial biomass P. We conclude that soil P composition varies markedly among freshwater wetlands but can be predicted by fundamental soil properties.

Final-revised paper