The effects of simulated acid rain on internal nutrient cycling and the ratios of Mg, Al, Ca, N, and P in tea plants of a subtropical plantation

  • Xiao-Fei Hu
  • An-Qi Wu
  • Fang-Chao Wang
  • Fu-Sheng ChenEmail author


Acid rain alters nutrient cycling in tea plantations. However, the acquisition of Mg and Ca by plants and their nutrient interactions with Al, N, and P in response to acid rain are poorly understood. Experimental treatments simulating acid rain at various acidities (pH 4.5, 3.5, and 2.5) were performed within a red soil tea plantation in China. The available Mg, Al, Ca, N, and P were analyzed in the rhizosphere and bulk soils. Further, these elements were measured in absorptive, transportive, and storative roots in addition to twigs, tea, and mature leaves. Available soil Mg and Ca exhibited negative and positive rhizosphere effects, respectively, but the levels of both decreased due to acid rain treatment. In addition, average Mg and Ca concentrations generally decreased in plant tissues with increasing acidity. In contrast, average Al concentration increased across all plant tissues with increasing acidity treatment. Meanwhile, the ratios of Al/Mg and Al/Ca increased with increasing acidity but that of N/Al decreased in twigs and roots. Lastly, the ratios of N/Al, P/Ca, and N/P were all altered by acid treatment in tea and/or mature leaves. Taken together, these results indicated that elevated acidity increased the internal cycling of Al in plants but decreased Mg and Ca fluxes between soils and roots. Further, the response of interactions among the five measured elements to different acidities varied with tea plant tissue. Our findings may advance our understanding of plant adaptation to increasing soil acidification and atmospheric acid deposition around the world.


Camellia sinensis Internal nutrient cycles Rhizosphere Simulated acid rain Ecological stoichiometry 



We greatly appreciate Jing Li and Xi Chen for their help in field sampling and sample analysis and Shujun Zhou and Michael L. Wine for their help with language.

Funding information

This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31560152, 31770749, and 31870427) and the Jiangxi Provincial Department of Science and Technology (20165BCB19006).

Supplementary material

10661_2019_7248_MOESM1_ESM.doc (400 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 400 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiao-Fei Hu
    • 1
    • 2
  • An-Qi Wu
    • 1
  • Fang-Chao Wang
    • 1
  • Fu-Sheng Chen
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of State Forestry Administration on Forest Ecosystem Protection and Restoration of Poyang Lake WatershedJiangxi Agricultural UniversityNanchangChina
  2. 2.Management School of Nanchang UniversityNanchangChina
  3. 3.Jiangxi Provincial Key Laboratory of Silviculture, College of ForestryJiangxi Agricultural UniversityNanchangPeople’s Republic of China

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