Bioaccessibility and turnover of subsoil P in forest soils

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This project has been designed to test the hypothesis that subsoils increasingly contribute to the P acquisition of trees with increasing P deficiency in the surface soil. Tracing the natural oxygen isotope abundance of HCl extractable soil phosphates showed that their d18O values were in equilibrium with intracellularly biological cycled P for topsoils, but not for deeper subsoils. In particular, our data pointed to an increased transformation of bedrock P in very deep subsoil (several m) of P limited sites, but not in the P richer ones. Intriguingly, however, our data also suggested that the utilization of subsoil P might be largely restricted by the supply of additional C and N sources rather than by specific P bondings in stable pools. In the second phase of this priority program, we thus aim at substantiating these findings by i) relating changes in phosphate isotope signatures down to 29 m soil depth to changes in P bonding forms, ii) testing the hypothesis that microbial turnover of (deep) subsoil P is enhanced by additional supply with C and N, iii) assess the role of subsoil minerals on microbial and abiotic phosphate 18O exchange rates, and build on our expertise from the first phase to use iv) the oxygen isotope composition of phosphate in Xylem sap as an indicator for P uptake from the subsoil in P limited sites. To achieve these aims, we perform onsite soil and xylem sap monitoring as well as ex-situ incubation experiments from different profile depths with 18O-labelled water and will continue to monitor oxygen isotope ratios in soil phosphates by Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry, Secondary ion mass spectrometry at nanoscale, and Raman Spectroscopy using near infrared and deep ultraviolet laser excitation.








Principal Investigators: 


Prof. Dr. Wulf Amelung
Uni Bonn; Institut für allg. Bodenkunde und Bodenökologie
Nussallee 13
53115 Bonn

Tel.: (+49) 228 732780

Dr. Hans Lewandowski
Foschungszentrum Jülich GmbH; IBG-3
Wilhelm-Johnen Straße
52428 Jülich

Tel.: (+49) 2461 614047



Postdoctoral Scientists:


Dr. Sara L. Bauke

Uni Bonn; Institut für allg. Bodenkunde und Bodenökologie
Nussallee 13
53115 Bonn

Tel.: (+49) 228 732965




PhD students:


Jan Wolff

Uni Bonn; Institut für allg. Bodenkunde und Bodenökologie
Nussallee 13
53115 Bonn

Tel.: (+49) 228 272981

Study sites


Bad Brückenau (BBR)

Conventwald (CON)

Lüss (LUE)

Mitterfels (MIT)

Vessertal (VES)

Tuttlingen (TUT)

Mangfall (MAN)

Schänis (SCH)




Funded by


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