Acid Phosphatase Role in Chickpea/Maize Intercropping Academic Article uri icon


  • Organic P comprises 30-80 % of the total P in most agricultural soils. It has been proven that chickpea facilitates P uptake from an organic P source by intercropped wheat. In this study, acid phosphatase excreted from chickpea roots is quantified and the contribution of acid phosphatase to the facilitation of P uptake by intercropped maize receiving phytate is examined.For the first experiment using hydroponics, maize (Zea mays 'Zhongdan No. 2') and chickpea (Cicer arietinum 'Sona') were grown in either the same or separate containers, and P was supplied as phytate, KH2PO4 at 0.25 mmol P L(-1), or not at all. The second experiment involved soil culture with three types of root separation between the two species: (1) plastic sheet, (2) nylon mesh, and (3) no barrier. Maize plants were grown in one compartment and chickpea in the other. Phosphorus was supplied as phytate, Ca(H2PO4)2 at 50 mg P kg(-1), or no P added.In the hydroponics study, the total P uptake by intercropped maize supplied with phytate was 2.1-fold greater than when it was grown as a monoculture. In the soil experiment, when supplied with phytate, total P uptake by maize with mesh barrier and without root barrier was 2.2 and 1.5 times, respectively, as much as that with solid barrier. In both experiments, roots of both maize and chickpea supplied with phytate and no P secreted more acid phosphatase than those with KH2PO4 or Ca(H2PO4)2. However, average acid phosphatase activity of chickpea roots supplied with phytate was 2-3-fold as much as maize. Soil acid phosphatase activity in the rhizosphere of chickpea was also significantly higher than maize regardless of P sources.Chickpea can mobilize organic P in both hydroponic and soil cultures, leading to an interspecific facilitation in utilization of organic P in maize/chickpea intercropping.


publication date

  • August 2004