BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers have revealed that plant growth is significantly limited by phosphorus supply in both the tropics and temperate regions and in all major types of terrestrial ecosystems including forests, grasslands, tundras, and farmland.
Phosphorus is considered a crucial nutrient element for plant growth. Its undersupply may influence the productivity and carbon sequestration of natural terrestrial ecosystems and crop yield in farmlands.
Phosphorus addition is an experimental approach, which can be used to judge whether plant growth is significantly limited by phosphorus supply.
In a research article recently published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from the South China Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences studied the global pattern of phosphorus limitation on plant growth in terrestrial ecosystems.
They found that 46.2 percent of the 652 field experiments witnessed a significant promotion of plant growth by phosphorus additions.
Globally, phosphorus additions increased aboveground plant production by 34.9 percent in natural terrestrial ecosystems and increased crop yield by 13.9 percent in farmlands, said the article.
The research findings showed that phosphorus limitation of terrestrial plant growth is a worldwide phenomenon.
“The results do not necessarily indicate the need for phosphorus fertilization in natural terrestrial ecosystems because excessive phosphorus fertilization may cause loss of biodiversity and eutrophication of water bodies,” said Hou Enqing, the lead author of the article. “Instead, we highlighted the critical role of phosphorus supply on terrestrial plant growth and call for more attention to phosphorus supply.”