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XANES Demonstrates the Release of Calcium Phosphates from Alkaline Vertisols to Moderately Acidified Solution

Andersson, Karl O., Tighe, Matthew K., Guppy, Christopher N., Milham, Paul J., McLaren, Timothy I., Schefe, Cassandra R., Lombi, Enzo
Environmental Science & Technology 2016 v.50 no.8 pp. 4229-4237
Vertisols, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, acidification, alkaline soils, apatite, calcium, inorganic phosphorus, ion-exchange membranes, pH, phosphorus, rhizosphere, solubility
Calcium phosphate (CaP) minerals may comprise the main phosphorus (P) reserve in alkaline soils, with solubility dependent on pH and the concentration of Ca and/or P in solution. Combining several techniques in a novel way, we studied these phenomena by progressively depleting P from suspensions of two soils (low P) using an anion-exchange membrane (AEM) and from a third soil (high P) with AEM together with a cation-exchange membrane. Depletions commenced on untreated soil, then continued as pH was manipulated and maintained at three constant pH levels: the initial pH (pHᵢ) and pH 6.5 and 5.5. Bulk P K-edge X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy revealed that the main forms of inorganic P in each soil were apatite, a second more soluble CaP mineral, and smectite-sorbed P. With moderate depletion of P at pHᵢ or pH 6.5, CaP minerals became more prominent in the spectra compared to sorbed species. The more soluble CaP minerals were depleted at pH 6.5, and all CaP minerals were exhausted at pH 5.5, showing that the CaP species present in these alkaline soils are soluble with decreases of pH in the range achievable by rhizosphere acidification.