Thesis: Mechanisms of phosphorus (P) acquisition and utilisation in native south-western Australian plant species, and facilitation by phosphorus-mobilising neighbours of Adenanthos cygnorum (Proteaceae)
Soils in south-western Australia have an extremely low phosphorus (P) concentration due to extensive weathering. Native plant species have developed various adaptations to survive on the P-impoverished soils. Proteaceae allocate foliar P to mesophyll cells, instead of epidermal cells. They also show a shift from phospholipids to galactolipids and sulfolipids when leaves matured, but we have no information for other families. Proteaceae also develop a specialised root structure ‘cluster roots’, which exude carboxylates into the soil to mobilise P and manganese (Mn). However, we found that the leaf Mn concentration of common woollybush is extremely low compared with that of other Proteaceae species. This project will explore foliar P-allocation patterns of Myrtaceae and Fabaceae, and investigate how does common woollybush get P from P-impoverished soils
Why my research is important
By investigating the foliar P-allocation patterns of Myrtaceae and Fabaceae species that co-occur with Proteaceae on P-impoverished soils, and how common woollybush gets P from P-impoverished soils, I will provide a better understanding of the mechanisms of foliar P utilisation in other native species and P acquisition woollybush. Such knowledge is important for the long-term sustainability of Australian agriculture.