Phosphate solubilization by phosphate solubilizing microorganisms: insight into the mechanisms

Buddhi Charana  Walpola1   Kodithuwakku Kankanange Indika Upali  Arunakumara2   Min Ho  Yoon3,*   

1Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna, Mapalana, Kamburupitiya, Sri Lanka
2Department of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna, Mapalana, Kamburupitiya, Sri Lanka
3Department of Bio-Environmental Chemistry, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 34134, Korea


Phosphorous (P) is considered to be one of the key essential elements demanded by crop plants. Approximately 70 - 90% of phosphatic fertilizers applied to crops are fixed in soil as Ca, Fe, and Al metal cations, which are insoluble and thus not readily available for plant uptake. Therefore, most soils are deficient in plant available P. This is usually rectified by applying phosphate fertilizers continuously, although this is not economically viable or environmentally acceptable. The present paper reviews the mechanisms involved with phosphate solubilization and mineralization by phosphate solubilizing microorganisms (PSMs) with the associated factors that determine the success. PSMs are effectively involved in mediating the bioavailability of soil P. Their contribution includes mineralization of organic P solubilization of inorganic P minerals, and storing sizable amounts of P in biomass through different mechanisms such as the production of organic and inorganic acids, H2S, siderophores, exopolysaccharides, and production of enzymes such as phosphatases, phytase, and phosphonatases/C-P lyases, which are capable of chelating the metal ions, forming complexes, and making plant available P. PSMs manifest a wide range of metabolic functions in different environments, resulting in significantly higher plant growth, enhanced soil properties, and increased biological activities. Therefore, development of bio-inoculants with efficient novel PSM strains and further investigations on exploring such strains from diverse ecological niches with multifunctional plant-growth-promoting traits are needed.

Figures & Tables

Fig. 1. >Diagrammatic presentation of the mechanisms of PSMs mediated phosphate solubilization. The plate in the figure depicts phosphate solubilizing fungi (Aspergillus awamori bxq33110), which was isolated by the author and sequences were deposited in the NCBI genebank under accession number KF836501.