The chemical nature and cycling of nutrients in the environment

Plant Nutrition

The focus of my research is understanding the chemical nature and cycling of nutrients in the environment. In particular, I am interested in identifying the diversity of inorganic and organic forms of phosphorus, and understanding the processes governing their flux in soil-plant systems. The overall goal is to provide new insight on the biogeochemistry of nutrients that will lead to improved outcomes for agricultural and environmental contexts.

Recent publications

  • Crop type exerts greater influence upon rhizosphere phosphohydrolase gene abundance and phylogenetic diversity than phosphorus fertilization
    Neal, Andrew L.; McLaren, Timothy; Campolino, Mariana Lourenco; Hughes, David; Coelho, Antonio Marcos; et al.
    Fems Microbiology Ecology 10.1093/femsec/fiab033  APR 2021
  • Phosphorus retention in constructed wetlands enhanced by zeolite- and clinopyroxene-dominated lava sand
    Alewell, Christine; Huang, Jen-How; McLaren, Timothy, I; Huber, Lea; Bunemann, Else K.
    Hydrological Processes, 10.1002/hyp.14040 FEB 2021
  • The chemical nature of soil organic phosphorus: A critical review and global compilation of quantitative data
    McLaren, Timothy I.; Smernik, Ronald J.; McLaughlin, Michael J.; Doolette, Ashlea L.; Richardson, Alan E.; et al.
    Advances In Agronomy, Vol 160, 10.1016/bs.agron.2019.10.001 Published: 2020
  • Identification of lower-order inositol phosphates (IP5 and IP4) in soil extracts as determined by hypobromite oxidation and solution P-31 NMR spectroscopy
    Reusser, Jolanda E.; Verel, Rene; Zindel, Daniel; Frossard, Emmanuel; McLaren, Timothy, I
    Biogeosciences  DOI: 10.5194/bg-17-5079-2020  OCT 21 2020
  • Phosphorus desorption and isotope exchange kinetics in agricultural soils
    Braun, Sabina; McLaren, Timothy I.; Frossard, Emmanuel; Tuyishime, J. R. Marius; Borjesson, Gunnar; et al.
    Soil Use And Management  DOI: 10.1111/sum.12674  NOV 2020
  • Quantitative measures ofmyo-IP(6)in soil using solution(31)P NMR spectroscopy and spectral deconvolution fitting including a broad signal
    Reusser, Jolanda E.; Verel, Rene; Frossard, Emmanuel; McLaren, Timothy, I
    Environmental Science-processes & Impacts  DOI: 10.1039/c9em00485h   APR 1 2020
  • Soil phosphorus pools with addition of fertiliser phosphorus in a long-term grazing experiment
    McLaren, Timothy I.; Smernik, Ronald J.; McLaughlin, Michael J.; McBeath, Therese M.; McCaskill, Malcolm R.; et al.
    Nutrient Cycling In Agroecosystems,  DOI: 10.1007/s10705-019-10035-y
  • Transformation of Calcium Phosphates in Alkaline Vertisols by Acidified Incubation
    Andersson, KO; Tighe, MK; Guppy, CN; Milham, PJ; McLaren, TI; Schefe, CR; Lombi, E; Lisle, LM; Klysubun, W
    ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 53 (17):10131-10138; 10.1021/acs.est.9b01565 SEP 3 2019
  • Influence of long-term phosphorus fertilisation history on the availability and chemical nature of soil phosphorus
    van der Bom, FJT; McLaren, TI; Doolette, AL; Magid, J; Frossard, E; Oberson, A; Jensen, LS
    GEODERMA, 355 10.1016/j.geoderma.2019.113909 DEC 1 2019
  • The structural composition of soil phosphomonoesters as determined by solution P-31 NMR spectroscopy and transverse relaxation (T-2) experiments
    McLaren, Timothy I.; Verel, Rene; Frossard, Emmanuel
    GEODERMA   Volume: 345   Pages: 31-37   10.1016/j.geoderma.2019.03.015 JUL 2019
  • Phosphorus characterization and plant availability in soil profiles after long-term urban waste application
    Glaesner, Nadia; van der Bom, Frederik; Bruun, Sander; McLaren, T; Larsen, FH; Magid, J
    GEODERMA 338   Pages: 136-144   10.1016/j.geoderma.2018.11.046 MAR 2019
  • Phosphorus dynamics in a tropical forest soil restored after strip mining
    Spain, Alister, V; Tibbett, Mark; Ridd, Michael; McLaren, Timothy I.
    PLANT AND SOIL 427   Issue: 1-2   Special Issue: SI   Pages: 105-123  10.1007/s11104-018-3668-8  JUN 2018
  • Soil solution phosphorus turnover: derivation, interpretation, and insights from a global compilation of isotope exchange kinetic studies
    Helfenstein, Julian; Jegminat, Jannes; McLaren, Timothy I.; Frossard, E.
    BIOGEOSCIENCES 15   Issue: 1   Pages: 105-114   10.5194/bg-15-105-2018 JAN 8 2018
  • Organic phosphorus in the terrestrial environment: a perspective on the state of the art and future priorities
    George TS, Giles, CD, Menezes-Blackburn D, Condron LM, Gama-Rodrigues AC, Jaisi D, Lang F, Neal AL, Stutter MI, Almeida DS, Bol R, Cabugao AC, Celi L, Cotner JB, Feng G, Goll DS, Hallama M, Krueger J, Plassard C, Rosling A, Darch T, Fraser T, Giesler R, Richardson AE, Tamburini F, Shand CA, Lumsdon DG, Zhang H, Blackwell MSA, Wearing C, Mezeli MM, Almås ÅR, Audette Y, Bertrand I, Beyhaut E, Boitt G, Bradshaw N, Brearley CA, Bruulsema TW, Ciais P, Cozzolino V, Duran PC, Mora ML, de Menezes AB, Dodd RJ, Dunfield K, Engl C, Frazão JJ, Garland G, Jiménez JLG, Graca J, Granger SJ, Harrison AF, Heuck C, Hou EQ, Johnes PJ, Kaiser K, Kjaer HA, Klumpp E, Lamb AL, Macintosh KA, Mackay EB, McGrath J, McIntyre C, McLaren TI, Mészáros E, Missong A, Mooshammer M, Negrón CP, Nelson LA, Pfahler V, Poblete-Grant P, Randall M, Seguel A, Seth K, Smith AC, Smits MM, Sobarzo JA, Spohn M, Tawaraya K, Tibbett M, Voroney P, Wallander H, Wang L, Wasaki J & Haygarth PM
    Plant & Soil 427(1-2):191-208 10.1007/s11104-017-3391-x  (2018)
  • Direct recovery of P-33-labelled fertiliser phosphorus in subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum) pastures under field conditions - The role of agronomic management
    McLaren, Timothy I.; McBeath, Therese M.; Simpson, Richard J.; Richardson, Alan E; Stefanski, A ; Guppy, CN; Smernik, RJ; Rivers, C; Johnston, C; McLaughlin, MJ
    AGRICULTURE ECOSYSTEMS & ENVIRONMENT 246   Pages: 144-156   10.1016/j.agee.2017.05.029 AUG 1 2017
  • The chemical nature of organic phosphorus that accumulates in fertilized soils of a temperate pasture as determined by solution P-31 NMR spectroscopy
    McLaren, Timothy I.; Smernik, Ronald J.; Simpson, Richard J.; McLaughlin, MJ; McBeath, TM; Guppy, CN; Richardson, AE
    JOURNAL OF PLANT NUTRITION AND SOIL SCIENCE 180   Issue: 1   Pages: 27-38   10.1002/jpln.201600076 FEB 2017
  • The composition of organic phosphorus in soils of the Snowy Mountains region of south-eastern Australia
    Doolette, Ashlea L.; Smernik, Ronald J.; McLaren, Timothy I.
    SOIL RESEARCH 55(1): 10-18   10.1071/SR16058 2017


Timothy McLaren ETH Zurich

Dr. Timothy McLaren
ETH Zurich
Institute of Agricultural Sciences

+41 76 818 67 08

Research topics

  • The chemical nature of inorganic and organic phosphorus in soil
  • The fate of fertiliser phosphorus in terrestrial ecosystems
  • Processes governing the release and stabilisation of soil phosphorus
  • Agronomic management strategies that improve phosphorus use efficiency
  • Analysis of soil, plant and fertiliser


  • Soil science
  • Soil chemistry
  • Soil fertility
  • Chemical nature of nutrients
  • Agroecosystems
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy