Soil organic phosphorus transformations in a boreal forest chronosequence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Soil phosphorus (P) composition changes with ecosystem development, leading to changes in P bioavailability and ecosystem properties. Little is known, however, about how soil P transformations proceed with ecosystem development in boreal regions. We used 1-dimensional P-31 and 2-dimensional H-1, P-31 correlation nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to characterise soil organic P transformations in humus horizons across a 7,800 year-old chronosequence in Vasterbotten, northern Sweden. Total soil P concentration varied little along the chronosequence, but P compounds followed three trends. Firstly, the concentrations of DNA, 2-aminoethyl phosphonic acid, and polyphosphate, increased up to 1,200-2,700 years and then declined. Secondly, the abundances of alpha- and beta-glycerophosphate, nucleotides, and pyrophosphate, were higher at the youngest site compared with all other sites. Lastly, concentrations of inositol hexakisphosphate fluctuated with site age. The largest changes in soil P composition tended to occur in young sites which also experience the largest shifts in plant community composition. The apparent lack of change in total soil P is consistent with the youth and nitrogen limited nature of the Vasterbotten chronosequence. Based on 2D NMR spectra, around 40 % of extractable soil organic P appeared to occur in live microbial cells. The observed trends in soil organic P may be related to shifts in plant community composition (and associated changes in soil microorganisms) along the studied chronosequence, but further studies are needed to confirm this.


  • Andrea G. Vincent
  • Johan Vestergren
  • Gerhard Grobner
  • Per Persson
  • Jurgen Schleucher
  • Reiner Giesler
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


  • hexakisphosphate, Inositol, P-31 correlation NMR, 2D H-1, Podzolization, 1D (PNMR)-P-31, Ribonucleic acid (RNA), Vasterbotten chronosequence
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-162
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch