BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Previous research has suggested a trade-off between the capacity of plants to downregulate their phosphorus (P) uptake capacity and their efficiency of P resorption from senescent leaves in species from P-impoverished environments.
METHODS: To investigate this further, four Australian native species (Banksia attenuata, B. menziesii, Acacia truncata and A. xanthina) were grown in a greenhouse in nutrient solutions at a range of P concentrations [P]. Acacia plants received between 0 and 500 µm P; Banksia plants received between 0 and 10 µm P, to avoid major P-toxicity symptoms in these highly P-sensitive species.
KEY RESULTS: For both Acacia species, the net P-uptake rates measured at 10 µm P decreased steadily with increasing P supply during growth. In contrast, in B. attenuata, the net rate of P uptake from a solution with 10 µm P increased linearly with increasing P supply during growth. The P-uptake rate of B. menziesii showed no significant response to P supply in the growing medium. Leaf [P] of the four species supported this finding, with A. truncata and A. xanthina showing an increase up to a saturation value of 19 and 21 mg P g(-1) leaf dry mass, respectively (at 500 µm P), whereas B. attenuata and B. menziesii both exhibited a linear increase in leaf [P], reaching 10 and 13 mg P g(-1) leaf dry mass, respectively, without approaching a saturation point. The Banksia plants grown at 10 µm P showed mild symptoms of P toxicity, i.e. yellow spots on some leaves and drying and curling of the tips of the leaves. Leaf P-resorption efficiency was 69 % (B. attenuata), 73 % (B. menziesii), 34 % (A. truncata) and 36 % (A. xanthina). The P-resorption proficiency values were 0·08 mg P g(-1) leaf dry mass (B. attenuata and B. menziesii), 0·32 mg P g(-1) leaf dry mass (A. truncata) and 0·36 mg P g(-1) leaf dry mass (A. xanthina). Combining the present results with additional information on P-remobilization efficiency and the capacity to downregulate P-uptake capacity for two other Australian woody species, we found a strong negative correlation between these traits.
CONCLUSIONS: It is concluded that species that are adapted to extremely P-impoverished soils, such as many south-western Australian Proteaceae species, have developed extremely high P-resorption efficiencies, but lost their capacity to downregulate their P-uptake mechanisms. The results support the hypothesis that the ability to resorb P from senescing leaves is inversely related to the capacity to downregulate net P uptake, possibly because constitutive synthesis of P transporters is a prerequisite for proficient P remobilization from senescing tissues.
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