Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Weathering of calcareous bedrocks is strongly affected by the activity of soil microorganisms

Pastore, Giovanni; Weig, Alfons R.; Vazquez, Eduardo; Spohn, Marie


Phosphorus (P) availability in calcareous forest soils is commonly low compared to siliceous soils. The main reason for this is that phosphate ions tend to precipitate with calcium (Ca). Weathering of calcareous rocks and the potential of microorganisms to dissolve calcareous parent material is not fully understood. Therefore, we examined microbial carbonate dissolution and the abundance of phosphorus-solubilizing bacteria in temperate forest soils with contrasting calcareous parent materials. We incubated soil extracts with weathered parent materials (i.e., dolomite and limestone) from two calcareous forest soils differing in P content and determined the rates of P and Ca solubilization. In addition, we determined the abundance of phosphorus-solubilizing bacteria (PSB). We found that the net Ca solubilization rate ranged from 8.8 to 511.1 nmol m(-2) d(-1) across both soils and depths. Calcium dissolution rates were negatively related to pH and positively related to the concentration of organic acids. The gross P solubilization rates were on average 63.6% higher from dolomite (P-poor soil) than from limestone (P-rich soil). The abundance of soil PSB ranged from 3.8 % at the limestone site (P-rich soil) to 24.4 % at the dolomite site (P-poor soil). The higher abundance of PSB in the soil derived from dolomite is in line with the high Ca and P solubilization rates at this site, indicating that PSB abundance is related to rock weathering rates from calcareous soils. Pseudomonadales and Enterobacteriales were by far the two most abundant bacterial orders in the PSB community of both soils and soil depths. In conclusion, this study shows, first, that weathering of calcareous bedrocks is strongly affected by the activity of soil microorganisms, and second, that there is likely a selective pressure in P-poor soils towards a higher abundance of PSB.


Calcareous soils; Phosphate-solubilizing bacteria; Dolomite; Limestone; Phosphate solubilization; Phosphate adsorption

Published in

2022, Volume: 405, article number: 115408
Publisher: ELSEVIER

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Soil Science

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)