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Crop Type Exerts Greater Influence Upon Rhizosphere Phosphohydrolase Gene Abundance And Phylogenetic Diversity Than Phosphorus Fertilization

Andrew L. Neal, Timothy McLaren, Mariana Lourenço Campolino, David Hughes, Antônio Marcos Coelho, Ubiraci Gomes de Paula Lana, Eliane Aparecida Gomes, Sylvia Morais de Sousa

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ABSTRACT Rock phosphate is an alternative form of phosphorus (P) fertilizer; however, there is no information regarding the influence of P fertilizer sources in Brazilian Cerrado soils upon microbial genes coding for phosphohydrolase enzymes in crop rhizospheres. Here, we analyze a field experiment comparing maize and sorghum grown under different P fertilization (rock phosphate and triple superphosphate) upon crop performance, phosphatase activity and rhizosphere microbiomes at three levels of diversity: small subunit rRNA marker genes of bacteria, archaea and fungi; a suite of alkaline and acid phosphatase and phytase genes; and ecotypes of individual genes. We found no significant difference in crop performance between the fertilizer sources, but the accumulation of fertilizer P into pools of organic soil P differed. Phosphatase activity was the only biological parameter influenced by P fertilization. Differences in rhizosphere microbiomes were observed at all levels of biodiversity due to crop type, but not fertilization. Inspection of phosphohydrolase gene ecotypes responsible for differences between the crops suggests a role for lateral genetic transfer in establishing ecotype distributions. Moreover, they were not reflected in microbial community composition, suggesting that they confer competitive advantage to individual cells rather than species in the sorghum rhizosphere.