21 Jul 2021

21 Jul 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Phosphorus dynamics during early soil development in extreme environment

Zuzana Frkova1,2, Chiara Pistocchi3, Yuliya Vystavna2,4, Katerina Capkova2,5, Jiri Dolezal5,6, and Federica Tamburini7 Zuzana Frkova et al.
  • 1University of Luxembourg, Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication, 6, rue Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, L-1359, Luxembourg
  • 2Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Hydrobiology, Na Sádkách 7, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
  • 3Eco&Sols, Montpellier SupAgro, CIRAD, INRAE, IRD, Univ. Montepellier, 34060 Montpellier, France
  • 4Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Soil Biology, Na Sádkách 7, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
  • 5Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Botany v.v.i., Dukelská 135, 379 82 Třeboň, Czech Republic
  • 6Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Na Zlaté stoce 1, 370 05, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
  • 7Institute of Agricultural Sciences, ETH Zurich, Research Station Eschikon 33, 8315 Lindau, Switzerland

Abstract. At the early stages of pedogenesis, the dynamics of phosphorus (P) in soils are controlled by microbial communities, the physicochemical properties of the soil and the environmental conditions. While various microorganisms involved in carrying out biogeochemical processes have been identified, little is known about the actual contribution of microbial processes, such as organic P hydrolysis and microbial P turnover, to P cycling. We thus focused on processes driven by microbes and how they affect the size and cycling of organic and inorganic soil P pools along a soil chronosequence in the Chamser Kangri glacier forefield (Western Himalayas). The rapid retreat of the glacier allowed us to study the early stages of soil formation under cold arid climate. Biological P transformations were studied with the help of the isotopic composition of oxygen (O) in phosphate (δ18OP) coupled to sequential P fractionation performed on soil samples from four sites of different age spanning 0 to 100–150 years. The mineral P, i.e. 1M HCl-extractable P, represented still 95 % of the total P stock after approximately 100 years of soil development. Its isotopic composition was similar to the parent material also at the most developed site. Primary phosphate minerals, therefore, mostly composed this pool. The δ18OP of the available P and the P bound to Fe and Al oxides instead differed from that of the parent material, suggesting that these pools underwent biological turnover. The isotopic composition of O in of the available P was mostly controlled by the microbial P, suggesting fast exchanges occurred between these two pools possibly fostered by repeated freezing-thawing and drying-rewetting cycles. The release of P from organic P become increasingly important with soil age, constituting one third of the P flux to available P at the oldest site. Accordingly, the lighter isotopic composition of the P bound to Fe and Al oxides at the oldest site indicated that this pool contained phosphate released by organic P mineralization. Compared to previous studies on early pedogenesis under alpine or cold climate, our findings suggest a much slower decrease of the P-bearing primary minerals during the first 100 years of soil development under extreme condition. However, they provide evidence that, by driving short-term P dynamics, microbes play an important role in controlling the redistribution of primary P into inorganic and organic soil P pools.

Zuzana Frkova et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on soil-2021-65', Andrew Smith, 09 Aug 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC1', Chiara Pistocchi, 27 Aug 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on soil-2021-65', Jörg Prietzel, 11 Aug 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Chiara Pistocchi, 27 Aug 2021
    • AC4: 'Reply on RC2', Chiara Pistocchi, 02 Sep 2021
  • AC1: 'Comment on soil-2021-65', Chiara Pistocchi, 26 Aug 2021

Zuzana Frkova et al.

Data sets

Chamser Kangri glacier forefield dataset Frkova, Zuzana; Pistocchi, Chiara; Vystavna, Yuliya; Capkova, Katerina; Dolezal, Jiri; Tamburini, Federica

Zuzana Frkova et al.


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Short summary
Phosphorus (P) is essential for life. We studied microbial processes driving P cycle in soils developed on the same rock but with different ages (0–100 y) under cold arid climate. Compared to previous studies under cold climate, we found a much slower weathering of P-containing minerals of soil development likely due to aridity. However, microbes dominate short-term dynamics and progressively redistribute P from the rock into more available forms making it available for plants at later stages.