The role of sulfur- and phosphorus-mobilizing bacteria in biochar-induced growth promotion of Lolium perenne

A Fox, W Kwapinski, BS Griffiths, A Schmalenberger

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104 Citations (Scopus)


Plants rely on microorganisms to mobilize organically and inorganically bound sulfur (S) and phosphorus (P) in which the plant can then readily utilize. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of S- and P-mobilizing bacteria in plant growth promotion in biochar-amended soil, which has been rarely investigated so far. Pot experiments of Lolium perenne were established on S and P limited soil with 1% or 2% biochar (Miscanthus 9 giganteus) or without biochar (control) for a period of 126 days. Both biochar amendments resulted in significant plant growth promotion. Rhizobacteria capable of growing with (1) S from aromatic sulfonates, (2) P from phosphate esters, (3) P from phosphonates, and (4) P from tri-calcium phosphates as sole source of S or P, respectively, were significantly more abundant in the biochar treatments. 16S rRNA gene-based rhizobacteria community analysis revealed a significant biochar treatment effect. Abundance of nematodes feeding on bacteria was also significantly increased in the biochar treatments. Diversity analysis of rhizospheric asfA and phnJ genes revealed broad sequence diversities in bacterial sulfonate and phosphonate-mineralizing capabilities. These findings suggest that biochar amendment enhances microbially mediated nutrient mobilization of S and P resulting in improved plant growth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78 - 91
Number of pages14
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusFirst published - 21 Jul 2014

Bibliographical note



  • DGGE
  • Nematodes
  • Nutrient mobilizing bacteria
  • Plant growth promotion
  • asfA
  • phnJ


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