State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Changshu National Agro-Ecosystem Observation and Research Station, Institute of Soil Science, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China. Electronic address: [Email]
In the rhizosphere of flooded paddy soils, the solubilization, efflux, and uptake of phosphorus (P) are highly intertwined with iron (Fe) redox cycling. However, the direct observation of Fe-P coupling in the rhizosphere is challenging. This study combined high-resolution dialysis (HR-Peeper) and diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT) techniques to capture the one-dimensional distributions of soluble reactive P (SRP), soluble Fe(II), and labile P and Fe in the root zone of rice (Oryza sativa L.), respectively. The results show a depletion of soluble/labile P and Fe concentrations around the rice root zone, compared to anaerobic bulk soils that have two different soil Olsen-P levels. Two-dimensional (2D) measurements of DGT-labile P concentrations exhibited similar but stronger trends of P depletion due to uptake of P from soil solids. In low-P soil treatment, 97.8% soluble Fe(II) was depleted in the rice root zone relative to bulk soil, and a 540% enrichment of total Fe in Fe plaques appeared in comparison to that in high-P soil. This demonstrated that the rice plant showed an adaptive metabolic reaction to combat P deficiency in low-P soil by increasing Fe plaque formation. This reaction directly resulted in stronger depletion of P in low-P soil, as indicated by the results of 2D measurements of DGT-labile P concentrations. Moreover, the significant (P < 0.001, R2 = 0.175-0.951) positive corrections between SRP vs. soluble Fe(II), and DGT-labile P vs. Fe were observed in combination with pronounced peaks at the same position in the rice root zone, thus verifying that the cycling of Fe dictated P depletion. A notably lower value of the DGT-labile Fe/P ratio was found in high-P soil, which indicates a relatively higher risk of P release compared to that in low-P soil.