American Chemical Society
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Phosphorus Transformations during Decomposition of Wetland Macrophytes

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journal contribution
posted on 2010-12-15, 00:00 authored by Alexander W. Cheesman, Benjamin L. Turner, Patrick W. Inglett, K. Ramesh Reddy
The microbially mediated transformation of detrital P entering wetlands has important implications for the cycling and long-term sequestration of P in wetland soils. We investigated changes in P forms in sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense Crantz) and cattail (Typha domingensis Pers.) leaf litter during 15 months of decomposition at two sites of markedly different nutrient status within a hard-water subtropical wetland (Water Conservation Area 2A, Florida). Leaf litter decomposition at the nutrient enriched site resulted in net sequestration of P from the environment in forms characteristic of microbial cells (i.e., phosphodiesters and pyrophosphate). In contrast, low P concentrations at the unenriched site resulted in little or no net sequestration of P, with changes in P forms limited to the loss of compounds present in the initial leaf litter. We conclude that under nutrient-rich conditions, P sequestration occurs through the accumulation of microbially derived compounds and the presumed concentration of endogenous macrophyte P. Under nutrient-poor conditions, standing P pools within wetland soils appear to be independent of the heterotrophic decomposition of macrophyte leaf litter. These conclusions have important implications for our ability to predict the nature, stability, and rates of P sequestration in wetlands in response to changes in nutrient loading.