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Opportunities for improving phosphorus-use efficiency in crop plants

Opportunities for improving phosphorus-use efficiency in crop plants

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  • E.J. Veneklaas
  • H. Lambers
  • P.M. Finnegan
  • C.A. Price
  • M.W. Shane
  • J.A. Raven
  • J. Bragg
  • C.E. Lovelock
  • W.C. Plaxton
  • W.-R. Scheible
  • P.J. White

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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalNew Phytologist
Journal publication date1 Jan 2012


Limitation of grain crop productivity by phosphorus (P) is widespread and will probably increase in the future. Enhanced P efficiency can be achieved by improved uptake of phosphate from soil (P-acquisition efficiency) and by improved productivity per unit P taken up (P-use efficiency). This review focuses on improved P-use efficiency, which can be achieved by plants that have overall lower P concentrations, and by optimal distribution and redistribution of P in the plant allowing maximum growth and biomass allocation to harvestable plant parts. Significant decreases in plant P pools may be possible, for example, through reductions of superfluous ribosomal RNA and replacement of phospholipids by sulfolipids and galactolipids. Improvements in P distribution within the plant may be possible by increased remobilization from tissues that no longer need it (e.g. senescing leaves) and reduced partitioning of P to developing grains. Such changes would prolong and enhance the productive use of P in photosynthesis and have nutritional and environmental benefits. Research considering physiological, metabolic, molecular biological, genetic and phylogenetic aspects of P-use efficiency is urgently needed to allow significant progress to be made in our understanding of this complex trait. © 2012 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2012 New Phytologist Trust.


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