J Plant Ecol ›› 2016, Vol. 9 ›› Issue (6): 784-791.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtw023

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Functional groups' performances as influenced by nitrogen, phosphorus and nodule inhibition of legumes

Eleni Koufali?, Olga K. Voulgari?, Andreas P. Mamolos*, Effrosyni D. Karanika and Demetrios S. Veresoglou   

  1. School of Agriculture, Laboratory of Ecology & Environmental Protection, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Received:2015-08-24 Accepted:2016-03-12 Published:2016-12-02
  • Contact: Mamolos, Andreas

Abstract: Aims Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) constitute essential elements for plant growth and their availability influence species diversity in herbaceous plant communities. Legumes exhibit relatively high abundance in N-limited soils. Moreover, the legumes' N:P ratios are much higher than those of the other plant species grown in the same site, probably because they are able to fix atmospheric N 2. The objective of this study was to determine how the relative proportion in N and P availability and the restriction of legumes to fix atmospheric N 2 affect: (i) the primary productivity of plant species, (ii) species composition and (iii) N and P concentrations of species.
Methods In an outdoor experiment, mixtures containing grasses, legumes and non-legume forbs were established in 32 containers under four soil treatments (control, N addition, P addition and disinfected soil), in a completely randomized design with eight replicates. Plant growth was examined when N and P were limited in the control soil:sand mixture, in a pot experiment sown with Plantago lanceolata .
Important findings The pot experiment indicated that both N and P were limiting for the growth of P. lanceolata. Soil treatments affected primary productivity and species composition. Legumes had a relatively high abundance in the control and their growth was favoured, especially that of Medicago sativa, by P addition. Grasses' growth was increased by the addition of N. Inhibition of rhizobia resulted in poor growth of legumes and concomitant higher growth of grasses, in comparison to the control. The N:P ratios of non-legume species differed between treatments and were always higher in the legume species, even in the disinfected soil. The latter provides evidence that the high N concentrations found in legumes are a physiological characteristic of this specific group of plants.

Key words: phytomass production, fertilization, nutrient limitations, N:P stoichiometry

摘要:
Aims Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) constitute essential elements for plant growth and their availability influence species diversity in herbaceous plant communities. Legumes exhibit relatively high abundance in N-limited soils. Moreover, the legumes' N:P ratios are much higher than those of the other plant species grown in the same site, probably because they are able to fix atmospheric N 2. The objective of this study was to determine how the relative proportion in N and P availability and the restriction of legumes to fix atmospheric N 2 affect: (i) the primary productivity of plant species, (ii) species composition and (iii) N and P concentrations of species.
Methods In an outdoor experiment, mixtures containing grasses, legumes and non-legume forbs were established in 32 containers under four soil treatments (control, N addition, P addition and disinfected soil), in a completely randomized design with eight replicates. Plant growth was examined when N and P were limited in the control soil:sand mixture, in a pot experiment sown with Plantago lanceolata .
Important findings The pot experiment indicated that both N and P were limiting for the growth of P. lanceolata. Soil treatments affected primary productivity and species composition. Legumes had a relatively high abundance in the control and their growth was favoured, especially that of Medicago sativa, by P addition. Grasses' growth was increased by the addition of N. Inhibition of rhizobia resulted in poor growth of legumes and concomitant higher growth of grasses, in comparison to the control. The N:P ratios of non-legume species differed between treatments and were always higher in the legume species, even in the disinfected soil. The latter provides evidence that the high N concentrations found in legumes are a physiological characteristic of this specific group of plants.