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Plant Cell Physiol. 2000 Apr;41(4):383-90.

Role of organic acids in detoxification of aluminum in higher plants.

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  • 1Faculty of Agriculture, Kagawa University, Japan.


Phytotoxicity of aluminum ion (Al3+) is a serious problem limiting crop production on acid soils. Organic acids with Al-chelating ability play an important role in the detoxification of Al both externally and internally. Al is detoxified externally by the secretion of organic acids such as citric, oxalic, and/or malic acids from the roots. The secretion of organic acids is highly specific to Al and the site of secretion is localized to the root apex. The kind of organic acids secreted as well as secretion pattern differ among plant species. There are two patterns of Al-induced secretion of organic acids: In pattern I, there is no discernible delay between the addition of Al and the onset of the release of organic acids. Activation of the anion channel seems to be involved in this pattern; In pattern II, there is a marked lag phase between the addition of Al and the onset of organic acid release. The action of genes related to the metabolism and secretion of organic acids seems to be involved in this pattern. Internal detoxification of Al in Al-accumulating plants is achieved by the formation of Al-organic acid complex. For instance, the complex of Al-citrate (1:1) in hydrangea and Al-oxalate (1:3) in buckwheat has been identified.

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