Productivity of tropical lowland moist forests is often limited by availability and functional allocation of phosphorus (P) that drives competition among tree species and becomes a key factor in determining forestall community diversity. We used non-target 31P-NMR metabolic profiling to study the foliar P-metabolism of trees of a French Guiana rainforest. The objective was to test the hypotheses that P-use is species-specific, and that species diversity relates to species P-use and concentrations of P-containing compounds, including inorganic phosphates, orthophosphate monoesters and diesters, phosphonates and organic polyphosphates. We found that tree species explained the 59% of variance in 31P-NMR metabolite profiling of leaves. A principal component analysis showed that tree species were separated along PC 1 and PC 2 of detected P-containing compounds, which represented a continuum going from high concentrations of metabolites related to non-active P and P-storage, low total P concentrations and high N:P ratios, to high concentrations of P-containing metabolites related to energy and anabolic metabolism, high total P concentrations and low N:P ratios. These results highlight the species-specific use of P and the existence of species-specific P-use niches that are driven by the distinct species-specific position in a continuum in the P-allocation from P-storage compounds to P-containing molecules related to energy and anabolic metabolism.
- P-NMR metabolic profiling
- P-containing compounds
- Species-specific P-use niches
- Tropical lowland