Convergence in phosphorus constraints to photosynthesis in forests around the world

David Ellsworth, Kristine Crous, Martin De Kauwe, Lore Verryckt, Daniel Goll, Sönke Zaehle, Keith Bloomfield, Philippe Ciais, Lucas Cernusak, Tomas Domingues, Eric Dusenge, Sabrina Garcia, Rossella Guerrieri, Frances Yoko Ishida, Ivan Janssens, Tanaka Kenzo, Tomoaki Ichie, Belinda Medlyn, Patrick Meir, Richard NorbyPeter Reich, Lucy Rowland, Louis Santiago, Yan Sun, Johan Uddling, Anthony Walker, Lasantha Weerasinghe, Martine van de Weg, Yun-Bing Zhang, Jiao-Lin Zhang, Ian J. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tropical forests take up more carbon (C) from the atmosphere per annum by photosynthesis than any other type of vegetation. Phosphorus (P) limitations to C uptake are paramount for tropical and subtropical forests around the globe. Yet the generality of photosynthesis-P relationships underlying these limitations are in question, and hence are not represented well in terrestrial biosphere models. Here we demonstrate the dependence of photosynthesis and underlying processes on both leaf N and P concentrations. The regulation of photosynthetic capacity by P was similar across four continents. Implementing P constraints in the ORCHIDEE-CNP model, gross photosynthesis was reduced by 36% across the tropics and subtropics relative to traditional N constraints and unlimiting leaf P. Our results provide a quantitative relationship for the P dependence for photosynthesis for the front-end of global terrestrial C models that is consistent with canopy leaf measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5005
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2022


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