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Plant Physiol. 2011 Jul;156(3):1116-30. doi: 10.1104/pp.110.171736. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

Genetic and genomic evidence that sucrose is a global regulator of plant responses to phosphate starvation in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Protein Science Laboratory of the Ministry of Education, School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.


Plants respond to phosphate (Pi) starvation by exhibiting a suite of developmental, biochemical, and physiological changes to cope with this nutritional stress. To understand the molecular mechanism underlying these responses, we isolated an Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) mutant, hypersensitive to phosphate starvation1 (hps1), which has enhanced sensitivity in almost all aspects of plant responses to Pi starvation. Molecular and genetic analyses indicated that the mutant phenotype is caused by overexpression of the SUCROSE TRANSPORTER2 (SUC2) gene. As a consequence, hps1 has a high level of sucrose (Suc) in both its shoot and root tissues. Overexpression of SUC2 or its closely related family members SUC1 and SUC5 in wild-type plants recapitulates the phenotype of hps1. In contrast, the disruption of SUC2 functions greatly inhibits plant responses to Pi starvation. Microarray analysis further indicated that 73% of the genes that are induced by Pi starvation in wild-type plants can be induced by elevated levels of Suc in hps1 mutants, even when they are grown under Pi-sufficient conditions. These genes include several important Pi signaling components and those that are directly involved in Pi transport, mobilization, and distribution between shoot and root. Interestingly, Suc and low-Pi signals appear to interact with each other both synergistically and antagonistically in regulating gene expression. Our genetic and genomic studies provide compelling evidence that Suc is a global regulator of plant responses to Pi starvation. This finding will help to further elucidate the signaling mechanism that controls plant responses to this particular nutritional stress.

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