Conclusion

To increase sustainability of agriculture, plants' adaptations to low P concentrations in soils should be taken better advantage of. With rising prices for P fertilizers, the use of P-solubilizing microorganisms and mycorrhiza and the breeding of cultivars with adapted root systems or exudation strategies are possible tools in maintaining or increasing productivity.

Past and present large inputs of P in agricultural systems lead to problems such as eutrophication and loss of biodiversity. P is probably not per se more significant for plant diversity than other nutrients. However, as a relevant limiting nutrient, it often (co-) determines the niches enabling species to grow. When P availability increases, plant diversity therefore often decreases. With global warming, P and N mineralization are stimulated. As both temperature and the amount of N have positive direct and indirect effects on soil P availability, global warming threatens phytodiversity via enhanced P availability. The effects of global warming on soil nutrients might lead to better conditions for fast-growing competitive and ruderal species, but in the longer run also to P mining. This could allow plant diversity to improve again.

However, long-term studies show that recovery of plant diversity may take a long time, especially after P addition, so that prevention of diversity loss due to increased P concentrations in the soil is preferable to later restoration measures.

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