BG1.4 | Interdisciplinary session on the global phosphorus cycle: 10 year anniversary
Interdisciplinary session on the global phosphorus cycle: 10 year anniversary
Co-organized by OS3/SSS5
Convener: Tom Jilbert | Co-conveners: Federica Tamburini, Melanie MünchECSECS, Phil Haygarth, Sonya Dyhrman
| Fri, 19 Apr, 16:15–18:00 (CEST)
Room N1
Posters on site
| Attendance Fri, 19 Apr, 10:45–12:30 (CEST) | Display Fri, 19 Apr, 08:30–12:30
Hall X1
Orals |
Fri, 16:15
Fri, 10:45
Phosphorus (P) is an essential element for life on Earth and is tightly cycled within the biosphere. Throughout geological history, P availability has regulated biological productivity with impacts on the global carbon cycle. Today, human activities are significantly changing the natural cycling of P. Phosphate mining has depleted geological P reserves, while increased inputs of P to terrestrial ecosystems have enhanced fluxes of P to lakes and the oceans.

Direct anthropogenic perturbations of the P cycle, coupled with other human-induced stresses, have impacted numerous environments. Forest ecosystems may be losing their ability to recycle P efficiently, due to excessive N input, extensive biomass removal, and climatic stress. Soils, which serve as the biogeochemical fulcrum of the terrestrial P cycle, have been greatly altered by fertilizer use in recent decades. Changes in the P cycle on land impact on the magnitude and timing of P fluxes into aquatic ecosystems, influencing their trophic state. Burial in sediments returns P to the geological sink, eventually forming economically viable P deposits. Throughout the P cycle, redox conditions play a key role in transformations and mobility of P.

This interdisciplinary session, now celebrating its 10th anniversary at EGU, invites contributions to the study of P from across the geosciences, and aims to continue fostering links between researchers working on different aspects of the P cycle. We target a balanced session giving equal weight across the continuum of environments in the P cycle, from forests, soils and groundwater, through lakes, rivers and estuaries, to oceans, marine sediments and geological P deposits. We welcome studies of both past and present P cycling, with a focus on novel techniques and approaches.

Orals: Fri, 19 Apr | Room N1

Chairpersons: Tom Jilbert, Federica Tamburini, Phil Haygarth
On-site presentation
Julian Helfenstein, Bruno Ringeval, Federica Tamburini, Daniel S. Goll, Xianjin He, Vera Mulder, Yingping Wang, Edwin Alblas, and Emmanuel Frossard

Improved management of phosphorus (P) is essential for achieving a range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including maintaining food security, preserving water quality, and mitigating climate change. This requires an integration of comprehensive mechanistic understanding with accurate spatial data. In this interdisciplinary review, we combine insights from empirical P research, digital soil mapping, biogeochemical modeling, and environmental law to critically examine the current state, pinpoint challenges and propose novel pathways for desperately needed P maps. We first elucidate the relevance of spatial data on P for different SDGs. Subsequently, we summarize the current efforts in mapping P pools at regional to global scales, and discuss the challenges of mapping “available P” due to substantial local scale variability and poor correlation with predictors relative to other soil properties. The practical applicability of these recently published maps is tested by evaluating them with independent measurement data. Finally, we outline ways forward to enhance the accuracy and reliability of P maps, as a basis for science-informed management of P resources.

How to cite: Helfenstein, J., Ringeval, B., Tamburini, F., Goll, D. S., He, X., Mulder, V., Wang, Y., Alblas, E., and Frossard, E.: Linking phosphorus research to impact: advances and challenges in mapping soil phosphorus pools, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-9674,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Maarten van Doorn, Debby van Rotterdam-Los, Gerard H. Ros, and Wim de Vries

Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient for plant growth and is applied to agricultural soils in the form of organic manure or inorganic fertilizer. To guide farmers in achieving optimal crop yields, P fertilizer recommendations are in place with the rationale to bring soils to a “target soil P status” following the classic build-up and maintenance approach. The target soil P status where crop yield is not limited by P deficiencies is generally operationalized as the soil P status at which 90-99% of the potential crop yield is found in long-term fertilization field experiments. Though these fertilizer recommendations allow for an economic optimization of crop yield versus P inputs, environmental objectives are barely considered. In our research, we revised the classic build-up and maintenance approach to balance crop production, water quality and the use of finite P reserves. This revision requires insights into the P sorption capacity of soils (PSC) and its saturation with P. We identify the oxalate extraction method as a key component of this approach since it quantifies the PSC from the combined measurement of amorphous iron- and aluminium-(hydr)oxides and the total pool of reversibly bound P. For the Netherlands, we show the implications of the approach for P fertilizer use. We quantified soil amorphous iron- and aluminium(hydr)oxides contents at a 25m resolution across the soil depth profile using a Digital Soil Mapping approach and used these predictions to translate agronomic soil P data to new insights to optimize P fertilizer use. We finally argue that agronomic P target levels should be lowered in soils with a low PSC to decrease the risk of P leaching and in soils with a high PSC to ensure judicious use of finite P reserves.

How to cite: van Doorn, M., van Rotterdam-Los, D., Ros, G. H., and de Vries, W.: Balancing crop production, water quality and the use of finite P reserves by using the soil P sorption capacity in revised fertilizer recommendations, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-14436,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Amin Soltangheisi, Adam Pinder, Keegan Blazey, Robert T. Grzesik, Miles Marshall, Angeliki Kourmouli, Carolina Mayoral, Kris M. Hart, Sami Ullah, Iain P. Hartley, A. Robert MacKenzie, and Andy R. Smith

Enhanced productivity of forest ecosystems in response to rising levels of anthropogenically generated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has the potential to mitigate against climate change by sequestering carbon in woody biomass and soils. However, the physiological response of trees to elevated atmospheric CO2 may be constrained by the availability of soil nutrients, predominantly nitrogen and phosphorus (P). Here, we assess the impact of elevated atmospheric CO2 on P cycling in a temperate 180-year-old oak (Quercus robur L.) forest exposed to free-air CO2 enrichment (ambient + 150 ppm) for six years. Soil cores were collected to a depth of 1 m in July 2023 and separated into three horizons and three layers (O, A, B, 30-50, 50-70, 70-100 cm) before analysis using the Hedley1 sequential P fractionation and the DeLuca2biological based P extraction techniques. Plant available P in soil pore water and total organic P from the O horizon increased by 84 and 128%, respectively, whilst organic P extracted with phosphatase increased by 62% under elevated CO2. Total organic P in soil horizons beyond the B horizon (> 15 cm) decreased under elevated CO2 in comparison with ambient CO2. As soil organic P is derived from the turnover of both vegetation and microbial biomass, increased soil organic P in the O horizon may be due to the faster turnover of organic matter or an increase in the net primary productivity of the forest. Soil P cycling in this forest ecosystem appears to be predominantly influenced by biological rather than chemical processes, since elevated CO2 only affected the organic P and not inorganic P fractions. Forest productivity may be constrained by P limitation in future elevated CO2 environments, if there is faster organic matter turnover which is probably the case in our study.

1Hedley, M. J., Stewart, J. W. B., & Chauhan, B. (1982). Changes in inorganic and organic soil phosphorus fractions induced by cultivation practices and by laboratory incubations. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 46(5), 970-976.

2DeLuca, T. H., Glanville, H. C., Harris, M., Emmett, B. A., Pingree, M. R., de Sosa, L. L., Cerdá-Moreno, C. & Jones, D. L. (2015). A novel biologically-based approach to evaluating soil phosphorus availability across complex landscapes. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 88, 110-119.

How to cite: Soltangheisi, A., Pinder, A., Blazey, K., Grzesik, R. T., Marshall, M., Kourmouli, A., Mayoral, C., Hart, K. M., Ullah, S., Hartley, I. P., MacKenzie, A. R., and Smith, A. R.: Elevated atmospheric CO2 increased soil plant available and soil organic phosphorus in a mature temperate oak (Quercus robur L.) forest, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-3472,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Lenny Haddad, Andrea Vincent, Reiner Giesler, and Jürgen Schleucher

Organic phosphorus (P) plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and productivity of soils. Understanding the composition of organic phosphorus in soils is thus relevant to a range of disciplines, spanning from agricultural sciences to ecology. Over the past few decades, efforts have been directed towards characterizing and quantifying various soil organic P compounds and determining their turnover rates. Despite these efforts, the precise nature of soil organic P remains unclear, particularly that of orthophosphate monoesters, which dominate 31P NMR spectra of NaOH-EDTA extracts globally.

Typically, the monoester region of 1D 31P NMR spectra appears as a series of sharp signals "sitting" on a broad background where the broad background can account for a substantial part of the monoester region. This is prompting questions about how to integrate and identify these signals and to what extent this fraction may be ecologically important. To investigate this monoester background, we employed 1D 31P NMR and 2D 1H-31P NMR1, along with 31P transverse relaxation (T2)2 measurements to calculate intrinsic linewidths. We related this linewidth to molecular weight to unveil the nature of the observed background. Analysing seven soils from different ecosystems, we observed linewidths ranging from 0.5 to 3 Hz for both resolved monoester signals and the background. This suggests that the background comprises numerous, possibly exceeding 100, sharp signals associated with small (<1.5 kDa) organic P molecules.

Organic P in the form of nucleic acids, phospholipids, P-containing metabolites, and phosphorylated proteins dominate the P content of live leaves, leaf litter and microbial tissues. Furthermore, P-containing metabolites are exuded by roots and are present in a vast array of organisms. Evidence that the background potentially can contain a large number of small metabolites is thus not surprising and may account for an important part of the organic P pool given that the background accounts for about 55% of the monoester region. Our findings warrant further research specifically addressing to what extent this pool may play for plant and microbial P nutrition.

We provide recommendations for treating 31P NMR spectra to accurately quantify phosphomonoester species, representing a crucial step in linking observed P speciation to its bioavailability. Our findings align with previous 31P NMR studies detecting background signals in soil-free samples and new evidence suggesting that alkali-soluble soil organic matter consists of self-assemblies of small organic compounds mimicking large molecules.

1Vestergren, J.; Vincent, A. G.; Jansson, M.; Persson, P.; Ilstedt, U.; Gröbner, G.; Giesler, R.; Schleucher, J. High-Resolution Characterization of Organic Phosphorus in Soil Extracts Using 2D 1H–31P NMR Correlation Spectroscopy. Environmental Science & Technology 2012, 46 (7), 3950–3956.

2Vincent, A. G.; Schleucher, J.; Gröbner, G.; Vestergren, J.; Persson, P.; Jansson, M.; Giesler, R. Changes in Organic Phosphorus Composition in Boreal Forest Humus Soils: The Role of Iron and Aluminium. Biogeochemistry 2012, 108 (1), 485–499.

How to cite: Haddad, L., Vincent, A., Giesler, R., and Schleucher, J.: 31P NMR Reveals Predominance of Small Molecules in Organic Phosphorus within NaOH-EDTA Soil Extracts, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-16417,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Katharina Maria Keiblinger, Sebastian Socianu, Maria Rechberger, Martin Gerzabek, and Franz Zehetner

The Galápagos archipelago, a volcanic island chain, is comprised of a series of progressively older islands with increasingly weathered soils away from the volcanic hotspot. Volcanic soils are known for their high phosphate sorption capacity. In this study, we explore differences in soil microbial abundance and activity across a soil age gradient (1.5 to 1070 ka) to understand how soil microorganisms are affected by soil development, shifting soil characteristics and P sorption over extensive periods.

Basal respiration, substrate-induced respiration and microbial biomass P decreased with soil development, suggesting increasing nutrient limitation for soil microbes. Also, soil enzymatic stoichiometry revealed a limitation driven mainly by P and not by N or C. C- and N-acquiring exoenzyme activities peaked at 26 ka with lower activities in younger and older soils. Phosphatase activity increased with soil age, indicating microbial P limitation in the older soils. This is only partly in line with  P sorption-desorption characteristics along the studied weathering sequence. Phosphate sorption capacity was high in the 4.3 ka soils likely due to amorphous soil constituents. A change towards 2:1-type crystalline clays after 26 ka of soil weathering led to weaker P sorption and stronger desorption, and acidification and increased P occlusion in Al and Fe (hydr)oxides became an important factor for microbial P limitation in the older soils.

Our results reveal striking differences in soil properties on the Galápagos Islands, suggesting relatively little nutrient constraints for soil microbes, despite strong P sorption, in the younger volcanic soils but growing P limitation in the older, highly weathered soils. These observations have important bearings on nutrient cycling and may therefore also affect the evolution of plant and animal species on this unique archipelago.

How to cite: Keiblinger, K. M., Socianu, S., Rechberger, M., Gerzabek, M., and Zehetner, F.: Microbial phosphorus limitiation with soil age along a chronosequence on the Galapagos Islands, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-19011,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Gurpal Toor, Jesse Radolinski, Emileigh Lucas, Charles Burgis, Bradley Kennedy, Fajun Sun, and Patricia Steinhilber

Long-term application of organic products (manure, biosolids, other wastes) and inorganic phosphatic fertilizers have created hot spots of phosphorus (P) saturated soils in intensive animal production regions worldwide. In such regions, P losses from P-saturated (i.e., legacy P) soils continue to plague efforts to improve water quality. Understanding the P cycling and fluxes from these P-saturated soils is critical to advancing our knowledge and developing strategies to manage P in soils and curb P losses. This presentation will discuss P cycling and transport in agricultural catchments (with Maize-Soybean rotation) from the lenses of P chemistry in soils and hydrologic responses from soils to further advancements in managing the P cycle in the soil-plant-water continuum for agricultural sustainability and environmental protection.

How to cite: Toor, G., Radolinski, J., Lucas, E., Burgis, C., Kennedy, B., Sun, F., and Steinhilber, P.: Phosphorus Cycling and Transport in Phosphorus Saturated Soils of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, USA, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-14368,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Neta Soto, Gilad Antler, and Avner Gross

Seagrasses are marine-flowing plants that form an important coastal ecosystem. Although occupying less than 0.2% of the ocean’s surface, seagrasses store over 15% of the accumulated global carbon storage in the ocean’s sediments. Thus, Seagrass meadows play a pivotal role in mitigating climate change by carbon sequestration. Seagrasses are widely distributed in oligotrophic tropical waters despite the low nutrient levels in the water column due to their ability to absorb nutrients from the sediment porewater. Moreover, seagrasses can actively mobilize unavailable nutrients e.g., iron and phosphorus in the rhizosphere via multiple biogeochemical interactions. This provides them with an important advantage over pelagic photoautotrophs, which are limited by the availability of nutrients in the water column. Despite their ability to transport nutrients from sinks e.g., sediments to the water column where they can be recycled trough grazing or decomposition, the potential role of seagrass as a revers sedimentary phosphate pump remains unclear. The aim of this study is to examine the effect of seagrass disappearance on phosphate flux in marine coastal environments. In a series of incubation experiments, the change in the phosphate release was examined in different tissues of seagrass Halophila stipulacea. The results showed that the while the highest decomposition rate of the rhizomes was the fastest, the highest phosphate release rate was measured in the leaves, despite having similar phosphate content. Since the leaves mostly decompose in the water column, the released phosphate is made available to planktonic photoautotrophs and further enhances more carbon fixation. Overall, we suggest that in oligotrophic environments seagrasses act as a reverse phosphate pump by accessing phosphate in the sediment and later translocating it to the aboveground parts and releasing in the water column, thus fertilizing planktonic photoautotrophs and enhancing further carbon sequestration.

How to cite: Soto, N., Antler, G., and Gross, A.: Seagrasses' role as a reverse sedimentary phosphate pump, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-3208,, 2024.

Virtual presentation
Sonya Dyhrman, Kathleen Ruttenberg, Danielle Hull, and Sherril Leon Soon

The critical role of Dissolved Organic Phosphorus (DOP) in supporting primary production has spurred efforts to characterize DOP composition so that insight may be gained into its bioavailability and cycling in aquatic systems. The degree to which DOP is bioavailable to primary producers will determine, in part, the extent of carbon uptake and sequestration.  Ascertaining DOP composition has proven to be an analytically challenging endeavor.  As a consequence, the DOP pool remains poorly characterized, and our predictive power relative to DOP-bioavailability, and coupled carbon cycling, remains limited. Analytical impediments to characterizing DOP composition in natural waters include its low concentration, requiring pre-concentration before compositional features can be probed via spectroscopy, and the fact that organic phosphorus compounds are not easily amenable to standard organic geochemical approaches, such as chromatographic or mass spectrophotometric methods, particularly in salt water. While 31-Phosphorus Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (31P-NMR) spectroscopy has provided intriguing information on the distribution of the 2 major DOP compound types (phosphoesters, phosphonates), the crucial question of DOP bioavailability cannot be addressed by this method. We present novel DOP molecular weight distribution and bioavailability data, generated using a coupled sequential ultrafiltration-bioavailability approach from a marine water column depth profile and locations across a gradient in phosphate concentration in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  There is substantial compositional variability in the marine DOP pool, both in the pattern of DOP molecular weight distribution at different sites, as well as the distribution of bioavailable mono- and diesters of phosphate across molecular weight fractions.  In some cases, a substantial fraction of DOP in different molecular weight size classes is non-reactive to the two enzymes used to assay potential bioavailability, raising the interesting possibility of non-bioavailable DOP. The significance of recognizing that the oceanic DOP pool is compositionally heterogeneous, and variably bioavailable, lies in that fact that such information is a prerequisite to building ecosystem models that capture the influence of P biogeochemistry on primary production and carbon cycling in aquatic systems.

How to cite: Dyhrman, S., Ruttenberg, K., Hull, D., and Leon Soon, S.: Heterogeneous Dissolved Organic Phosphorus Composition and Bioavailability in Marine Systems, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-22214,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Xuyang Cao, Pengcheng Ju, Yigui Han, Lihui Lu, and Dong Shao

In modern low sulfate and anoxic (euxinic) waters, the precipitation of mineral vivianite (an easily oxidized hydrated ferrous-iron phosphate) has played a crucial role in restraining the limiting nutrient element phosphorus (P) recycling back to the water column and consequently decreasing primary productivity. Although such low sulfate and anoxic conditions were widespread in ancient coastal oceans, vivianite has not been directly discovered in the paleo-sediments, which hampers the understanding of P cycling in ancient anoxic environments. Here, we combined techniques of scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, focused ion beam-transmission electron microscopy and P K-edge X-ray absorption near edge structure spectroscopy to analyze samples of P-bearing siliceous rocks and shales from the early Cambrian Yurtus Formation in the Tarim Craton, northwest China. Our results have demonstrated that micron- to nano-scale vivianite crystals are well preserved in the rocks and the vivianite dominates the P phase in some samples. The cherty matrix of the rocks most likely increased the chances of preservation of the oxidation-sensitive vivianite. In light of recent advances, we suggest that vivianite was a crucial P phase in ancient continental margin sediments, spanning most time from the Neoarchean to the early Cambrian. During this interval, the precipitation of vivianite was likely aided by the prevalent dynamic ocean euxinic conditions linked with the seawater sulfate reservoir and the flux of organic matter settling. We propose a negative feedback mechanism in which vivianite precipitation from ancient euxinic waters restricted P availability for biota, reduced marine primary productivity, and possibly abated the rate of Earth's oxygenation and associated evolution of life. This work was financially supported by NSFC projects (grants 42072264, 41730213) and Hong Kong RGC GRF (17307918).

How to cite: Cao, X., Ju, P., Han, Y., Lu, L., and Shao, D.: Vivianite verified in early Cambrian strata in northwestern China: Implications for phosphorus recycling in ancient anoxic oceans, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-7212,, 2024.


Posters on site: Fri, 19 Apr, 10:45–12:30 | Hall X1

Display time: Fri, 19 Apr 08:30–Fri, 19 Apr 12:30
Chairpersons: Tom Jilbert, Federica Tamburini, Phil Haygarth
Lu Wang and Yuanhe Yang

It has been advocated that nitrogen (N) availability plays an essential role in mediating plant and microbial growth in cold environment, and could thus regulate the direction and magnitude of permafrost carbon (C)-climate feedback. However, compared to widely concerned N, little is known about soil phosphorous (P) availability and its biological acquisition strategies in permafrost environment. Here we explored soil microbial P acquisition strategies using shotgun metagenomics across the Tibetan permafrost area, encompassing a large scale survey spanning 1,000 km. In contrast to the traditional opinion that microorganisms in cold area usually obtain P mainly through mineralization process, our results revealed that the P cycling genes responsible for solubilization, mineralization and transportation were widespread, illustrating multiple microbial strategies for acquiring P in permafrost regions. Moreover, the higher gene abundance related to solubilization and mineralization as well as an increased ration of MAGs carrying these genes were detected in the active layer, while the greater abundance of low affinity transporter gene (pit) and proportions of MAGs harbouring pit gene were observed in permafrost deposits, reflecting a stronger potential for P activation in active layer but an enhanced P transportation potential in permafrost deposits. Taken together, these results highlight that besides microbial P mineralization, multiple P-related acquisition strategies and their differences among various soil layers should be considered simultaneously to improve model prediction for the responses of biogeochemical cycles in permafrost ecosystems to climate change.

How to cite: Wang, L. and Yang, Y.: Divergent microbial phosphorous acquisition strategies between active layer and permafrost deposits, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-2973,, 2024.

Does plant uptake fractionate phosphate oxygen isotopes?
Alon Angert and Alexandra Naor
Atsushi Hayakawa, Yuka Kuroe, Ayumi Kawata, Kazuya Nishina, Yuichi Ishikawa, and Tadashi Takahashi

[Background] Phosphorus (P) availability in soils and sediments is a critical parameter influencing primary production in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, controlled by both P chemical fractions in solid phase and solution composition. A recent study using Arctic soils reported that the addition of Si to the soil released P bound to Fe(II) compounds, but reports on other soils and sediments are limited. In our previous study, we detected higher P concentrations in stream water and iron-bound P content in river sediments in the marine sedimentary rock catchments of the Akita coastal area compared to catchments in the adjacent igneous rock area. Furthermore, high-P stream waters were NaCl water type with relatively lower Ca2+ and higher SiO2 concentrations. In this study, we evaluated the effects of different solution compositions and amorphous Si addition on P solubilization in sediments using river sediments from marine sedimentary and igneous rock regions. [Method] We tested each five river sediments (<2 mm) in the headwaters of western Akita Prefecture, Japan, where the surface geology is composed of marine sedimentary rocks and igneous rocks. Available Si (easily water-soluble Si) was measured by a long-term flooded incubation in distilled water at 30°C for 30 days. In the P dissolution incubation, four types of treatment solutions (distilled water, 1 mM NaCl and NaHCO3 solutions, and 0.5 mM CaCl2 solution) were added to 0.5 g sediment and in the Si addition treatment, amorphous Si (hydrophilic fumed silica, AEROSIL300) was also added. SRP, DOC and pH in the solution were measured after shaking for 48 hours. A statistical analysis was performed using a linear mixed model (LMM) with SRP, DOC and pH in the liquid phase as objective variables. The surface geology, four types of solutions, and the Si addition as explanatory variables. Additionally, each five sediment was treated as a random effect. [Results and discussion] Easily water-soluble Si content in sediments was significantly higher in marine sedimentary rock areas (p < 0.001), indicating that the easily soluble Si causes higher SiO2 concentration in stream water. The incubation results showed Si addition significantly increased P concentration in the liquid phase (p < 0.001), and combined Si addition with NaHCO3 treatment further increased P concentration. Conversely, CaCl2 treatment significantly decreased the liquid-phase P concentration. The influence of surface geology on extracted P concentration was not significant. Si addition did not affect pH (p = 0.58) and DOC (p = 0.90), while the effects of solution composition on pH and DOC were also significant; NaHCO3 solution increased pH and DOC while CaCl2 solution decreased pH and DOC. In conclusion, in marine sedimentary rock areas in coastal Akita with NaCl water type where Ca2+ concentration is relatively low and sediments have higher easily soluble Si, P release from sediments easily occurs and a high P concentration keeps in the liquid phase.

How to cite: Hayakawa, A., Kuroe, Y., Kawata, A., Nishina, K., Ishikawa, Y., and Takahashi, T.: Silicone availability and NaCl water type enhances the phosphorus release from sediments in coastal forest catchments in Akita, Japan, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-4491,, 2024.

Markus Ausmeel, Martin Liira, Päärn Paiste, Aivo Lepland, and Sten Suuroja

Baltic Sea is a geologically young semi-enclosed brakish-water body which water exchange with the ocean has been gradually declining. Approximately 85 million people live in the Baltic Sea's catchment area, resulting in significant human impact on the basin's ecosystem. Eutrophication due to anthropogenic discharge of nutrients is considered to be the most serious environmental problem which leads to a greater growth of phytoplankton and algae, deterioration of water quality, and lack of oxygen in near-bottom water masses. As a result of recent large-scale input of nutrients, phosphorus has accumulated in the seabed sediments from where it can be remobilized and released into the water column under favorable conditions (hypoxic or anoxic). Marine sediments contain phosphorus in various components i.e. fractions, but not all of them are affected by remobilization. Therefore, knowing how phosphorus fractions are distributed in seabed sediments is important.

One part of the Baltic Sea that has received little attention, but will significantly affect the entire Baltic Sea in the future, is the Gulf of Riga. The Gulf of Riga accounts for less than 5% of the total area of the Baltic Sea and less than 2% of the total water volume. Due to its shallowness and limited connection with the open Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Riga is strongly influenced by riverine input. Intense agriculture, rapid development of industry, and urbanization have resulted in high loads of nutrients into the Gulf of Riga already since the 1960s.

Phosphorus fractions and their vertical distribution were studied from the sea-bottom sediments from the Gulf of Riga and other coastal areas of western Estonia. The amount of potentially mobile phosphorus stored in the surface sediments of the Gulf of Riga is several times higher than in other accumulation areas of the Baltic Sea, with concentrations as high as 980 mg/kg(dw). A strong correlation between Mn and mobile phosphorus concentration suggests that Fe-Mn concretions control the amount of phosphorus in the sediments of the Gulf of Riga. Although the bottom waters of the Gulf of Riga are currently predominantly oxic, a decreasing trend of deep-layer oxygen concentrations and more frequent hypoxia in the Gulf of Riga during previous decades have been documented. Considering the large amount of potentially mobile phosphorus in the sediments of the Gulf of Riga, surpassing the annual total phosphorus input to the Baltic Sea, a substantial release of phosphorus could be inevitable, possibly impacting the entire Baltic Sea ecosystem.

How to cite: Ausmeel, M., Liira, M., Paiste, P., Lepland, A., and Suuroja, S.: Phosphorous in the seabed sediments of the Gulf of Riga, Baltic Sea: Fe-Mn concretions as main carriers of mobile phosphorous , EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-6352,, 2024.

Shenghui Ouyang

Phosphorus (P), as an indispensable nutrient element in Earth’s biological system, exerts a pivotal role on the burial of organic carbon over million-year time scales. By producing oxygen and consuming carbon dioxide, organic carbon burial may have paved the path for multicellular organisms by reforming the anoxic atmosphere to an oxic one. Organic carbon burial, on long time scales, is ultimately limited by continental P influx released by chemical weathering of P-bearing minerals. As crystalline rocks characterized by prominent discrepancy in P-bearing mineral composition undergoing various dominant weathering forces on surficial environment, P availability for organic carbon burial could be controlled by lithology. To decipher the conundrum of P releasement, a catchment scale case study was conducted, encompassing a series of lithologies following the crystalline rock order. Preliminary data suggests that the P release efficiency is lithology-constrained, indicating an enhanced P releasement in felsic catchment. The result gives us a hint that felsic crust would export more P to the ocean and promote the organic carbon burial, the lithology-constrained P releasement also enlightens us a new perspective to understand the coevolution among crust, atmosphere and life.

How to cite: Ouyang, S.: Lithology-constrained phosphorus (P) releasement, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-9578,, 2024.

Hannah Walling, Mariana Rufino, Jose Rotundo, Lucas Borras, Shane Rothwell, John Quinton, and Phil Haygarth

Application of phosphorus (P) fertiliser to soybean accounts for a large proportion of the global consumption of P as an agricultural fertiliser. Despite this key a knowledge gap exists surrounding the mechanisms of P fertiliser uptake and how it interacts with nitrogen fixation processes and yield improvements.

This paper aims to improve the understanding of P cycling in global cropping systems and will present a global meta-analysis of published data quantifying the effect of P fertiliser application on soybean above- and below-ground plant response variables. 790 paired observations (P fertiliser treatment and control treatment) were synthesised from 81 peer-reviewed articles that reported soybean response, including seed yield and nodulation, to P addition under a range of different environmental conditions.

We tested the hypothesise that:

  • soybean productivity will increase following P addition, with this response being driven by below-ground processes;
  • environmental conditions, particularly soil chemical properties would explain the variance in the observed response.

Analysis of these observations showed an overarching increase in soybean plant response following P addition. We found that several environmental and experimental conditions, particularly soil phosphorus status and phosphorus fertiliser rate influence the response of soybean to phosphorus addition, highlighting the complexities of sustaining P use across such a globally cultivated crop.

We recommend further experimental work needs to be conducted, which controls for such factors and allows for the improved mechanistic understanding of below-ground processes, to inform better use of finite P resources.

How to cite: Walling, H., Rufino, M., Rotundo, J., Borras, L., Rothwell, S., Quinton, J., and Haygarth, P.: A meta-analysis of global soybean plant growth and yield improvement in response to phosphorus addition, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-16549,, 2024.

Mohammed Barhdadi, Aurélia Mouret, Christine Barras, Guillaume Morin, Grégoire Maillet, Matthieu Durand, Meryem Mojtahid, Eric Bénéteau, Nicolas Dubosq, and Edouard Metzger

Phosphorus (P) is a key nutrient controlling primary production in aquatic systems. In coastal systems, the P cycle involves dynamic interactions between terrestrial, aquatic and sedimentary compartments. Over the last century, human activities such as deforestation, intensive agricultural practices and the disposal of municipal and industrial wastes have increased P inputs to coastal ecosystems. As a result, this increase in P inputs has led to an increase in the occurrence of algal blooms and higher oxygen demand in estuaries. In the Loire estuary, dissolved oxygen deficits have been a recurrent and worrying issue for several decades despite the improvement of water quality over the last 30 years due to reduced wastewater discharge and better effluent treatment. In this context, the burial of bioavailable P may influence the recovery of waters from eutrophication. The major P burial phases are apatite, organic P and iron-bound P. The results of sequential chemical extraction and pore water analysis carried out over a 5m-long sediment core from the intertidal Brillantes mudflat in the Loire estuary indicated a greater abundance of the iron-bound P compared to other phases. Iron-bound P occurs in two different forms: phosphorus bound to iron oxides and in the iron phosphate mineral known as vivianite. Vivianite is a ferrous iron phosphate mineral formed under reducing and low sulphate conditions in sediments where organic matter serve as electron donor for ferric iron reduction. Results of sequential chemical extraction of freeze-dried sediment samples combined with pore water data and scanning electron microscope–energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDXS) on resin-embedded sediment samples indicated that vivianite-type minerals may act as an important sink for P at the studied site. Authigenic vivianite crystals were found below the shallow sulphate/methane transition zone (SMTZ) at 94 cm depth and contain significant amounts of manganese, as observed in freshwater sediments. We therefore hypothesise that anthropogenic over-fertilization of coastal regions in the last century may have increased the importance of vivianite authigenesis in surface sediments. Consequently, vivianite is likely to be an important sink for P in estuarine systems worldwide.

This study is part of a PhD financed by the European Project Life REVERS’EAU.

How to cite: Barhdadi, M., Mouret, A., Barras, C., Morin, G., Maillet, G., Durand, M., Mojtahid, M., Bénéteau, E., Dubosq, N., and Metzger, E.: Vivianite as a phosphorus sink in estuarine systems: The case study of the Brillantes mudflat, Loire, France, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-17700,, 2024.

Tom Jilbert, Siqi Zhao, Jussi Vesterinen, and Juha Niemistö

Many eutrophic lakes suffer from long term accumulation of legacy phosphorus (P) in sediments. Repeated cycling of P between sediments and water column leads to delayed recovery from eutrophication even after abatement of external loading. Moreover, in complex multi-basin lake systems, legacy P can be internally redistributed over time, leading to spatial heterogeneity in regeneration and burial of P and consequent impacts on water quality. Few studies have attempted to map such internal variability in individual lakes in the context of understanding long term recovery from eutrophication. Here we use a combination of sediment trap deployments through one full stratification cycle (May-October 2021), sediment core biogeochemical analyses, and mass balance calculations, to quantify P cycling in Lake Hiidenvesi, a dimictic lake with 5 sub-basins in southern Finland. We show that exchange of P between sediments and water column is more intense in shallow (approximately 0-10 m depth) non-stratified sub-basins, due to both sediment resuspension and diffusive fluxes across the sediment-water interface. In contrast, deeper stratified sub-basins serve as P sinks by promoting sedimentation in relatively quiescent conditions. Due to lateral exchange of water and suspended materials between sub-basins, P is shuttled towards long term burial in deeper, downstream sub-basins. Budget calculations show that net sediment P burial exceeds external loading on the whole-lake scale, indicating a long-term trend towards recovery from eutrophication. However, temporary retention and repeated recycling of legacy P in the shallower upstream sub-basins continues to impact negatively on water quality, despite external loading reductions. The results have implications for understanding the timescales of recovery and for targeting restoration actions aimed at modifying internal P cycling to improve water quality.

How to cite: Jilbert, T., Zhao, S., Vesterinen, J., and Niemistö, J.: A spatial perspective on internal phosphorus cycling in morphologically complex eutrophic lakes: the importance of stratification, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-20517,, 2024.

Controls on global patterns of dissolved organic phosphorus utilisation in the surface ocean
(withdrawn after no-show)
Bei Su, Xianrui Song, Solange Duhamel, Claire Mahaffey, Clare Davis, Ingrid Ivančić, Shuo Zhou, and Jihua Liu
Federica Tamburini, Maja Siegenthaler, and Chiara Pistocchi

Phosphorus (P) is essential for cellular metabolism. Many metabolic pathways and processes depend on it, including energy production through ATP, DNA and RNA synthesis, and protein phosphorylation during post-translational signaling adaptation.

In marine sediments and oceanic water, the stoichiometric ratio between carbon and phosphorus has been found to vary with latitude, but in algae and phytoplankton, which are responsible for primary production and CO2 uptake from the atmosphere, this ratio is relatively constant. This constant ratio is known as the Redfield ratio and  it is often used as a constraint in modeling.

In soils, where microorganisms control nutrient cycling and consequent carbon sequestration, the C:P is more variable both in soil and microbial biomass. First, microorganisms exhibit a wide range of metabolic adaptations to environmental pressure, and the physical and mineralogical properties of the soil play a significant role in nutrient control, e.g. through sorption/desorption reactions. Due to these complexities, using nutrient ratios for modeling soil organic carbon dynamics and predicting the impact of anthropogenic influences on global changes is challenging. Is it possible to find a connection between carbon and phosphate that encompasses the "Redfield" ratio and reflects their tight link in cellular metabolism?

By examining the oxygen isotope composition in inorganic phosphate (δ18O-Pi), we can determine the extent of oxygen exchange between water and phosphate, which is controlled by biological processes. Intracellularly, this exchange occurs through phosphoryl transfer, a fundamental process in cellular phosphate cycling. 

During the last 10 years, we conducted a series of incubation experiments where we measured CO2 respiration and δ18O in resin and microbial cytosolic phosphate in soils from different environments. These incubations were performed with waters of varying 18O isotopic composition. By analyzing δ18O in microbial cytosolic phosphate at the beginning and end of the incubation, we could measure the level of oxygen exchange between water and phosphate.

Comparing the results from these incubations, we observed a significant correlation between the percentage of oxygen exchange and the cumulative CO2 respired during the incubation. This correlation was consistent  through different soil ages, mineralogy, phosphate levels, and incubation length. When normalizing the percentage of oxygen exchange to moles of oxygen exchanged per moles of carbon respired, it appears that for every mole of oxygen exchanged due to phosphoryl transfer, there is a nearly fixed amount of carbon respired. This suggests that the moles of oxygen exchanged through phosphoryl transfer recorded in soil microbial phosphate can provide information about metabolic carbon expenditure.

This finding would provide new insights on the link between P and C in soil microbial biomass. The controlled nature of the incubation experiments may not fully reflect the biological activity in soil environments, so it would be necessary to perform field-based incubation experiments to confirm the link between carbon respiration and phosphorus microbial cycle. This information could potentially improve our understanding of carbon dynamics and be used for further modeling purposes.

How to cite: Tamburini, F., Siegenthaler, M., and Pistocchi, C.: Beyond “Redfield ratio”: Oxygen exchange between water and phosphate can provide insights into carbon dynamics in soils, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-21673,, 2024.

Kaiyu Lei, Franziska Barbara Bucka, Carmen Höschen, Yahan Hu, and Ingrid Kögel-Knabner

For a comprehensive understanding of the phosphorus (P) storage and cycling in temperate soils, it is necessary to explore further the bonding pathways of organic P (Po) and inorganic P (Pi) to mineral surfaces and soil organic matter (SOM), and their interconnections with organic carbon (OC) at a micro-scale other than conventional bulk analysis. In the past decade, nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) has been increasingly recognized as a promising imaging technique to understand soil biogeochemical processes, particularly in exploring organo-mineral associations in soils at the microscale (Mueller et al., 2023). However, its application in studying P, and the identification and distinction of Po and Pi remains challenging, hindering a comprehensive understanding of the P cycling in soils.

In our study, four temperate soil types, including Cambisol, Luvisol, Phaeozem and Fluvisol, were taken from Bavarian Forest in South-East Germany. The pH of these soils ranges from 5.4 to 6.3, with poor to medium P stocks but distinct Po stocks in fine fractions (<20 μm). Previous bulk studies have hinted at different pathways in P bonding to mineral surfaces and SOM. NanoSIMS was employed to further explore and visualize these bonding pathways. Recent advancements in NanoSIMS technology, particularly improved O- sources for cation detection and the capability for 31P- and 31P16O2- detection enable us to identify and distinguish Po and Pi at a microscale by 31P16O2-/31P- ratio, in which a lower ratio in specific areas corresponds to a more dominant presence of Po, and vice versa.

From NanoSIMS images, preliminary results reveal that a proportion of Po associates with either clay minerals or Fe (hydr)oxdies without assimilating into SOM. This Po fraction is suspected to originate from highly decomposed SOM, where N has either been assimilated by microorganisms or leached away, and Po is stabilized to mineral surfaces due to strong bonding strength. In contrast, the Po assimilated into SOM is associated with various cations, including Ca, Al and Fe, which may suggest the origin from particulate organic matter. Interestingly, the fine plant residue is depleted in Po in the fine fraction.

In conclusion, our study provides valuable insights into distinguishing different bonding pathways of these P forms within clay minerals, Fe (hydro)oxides, and SOM by using advanced NanoSIMS data, and emphasizes the interconnection with OC and Po and Pi in the fine fraction.

Reference: Mueller, C. W., Hoeschen, C., Koegel-Knabner, I., 2023. Understanding of soil processes at the microscale—Use of NanoSIMS in soil science. Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment (Second Edition). Elsevier. 10.1016/B978-0-12-822974-3.00045-8

How to cite: Lei, K., Bucka, F. B., Höschen, C., Hu, Y., and Kögel-Knabner, I.: Exploring spatial distribution and characterization of inorganic and organic phosphorus in temperate soils using NanoSIMS , EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-21972,, 2024.