In a study published in Nature Plants, the team investigated how some ecosystems can have high biodiversity when all of these plants are competing for the same nutrients.
In a study published in Nature Plants, the team investigated how some ecosystems can have high biodiversity when all of these plants are competing for the same nutrients. They looked especially at ecosystems which are high in biodiversity but low in phosphorus, an essential nutrient for plant growth.
To do this they used soil taken from Peak District limestone grassland which is low in phosphorus. They then injected different types of phosphorus into the soil which allowed them to track which plants took up which type of phosphorus.
Their findings show that plants are able to share out the phosphorus by each preferring to take it up in a different form. This sharing is known as resource partitioning.
Professor Gareth Phoenix, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, who led the study, said: “The plants had different preferences for the various phosphorus compounds. Some showed greater uptake from the inorganic phosphorus form of phosphate, some preferred to use a mineral bound phosphorus compounds such as calcium phosphate, and others were better at using the organic compound DNA. Critically, this means the plants can co-exist because they are using different chemical forms of phosphorus in the soil. In other words, they are sharing the phosphorus.
Read more at University Of Sheffield