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Department of Horticulture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907; e-mail:


Phosphorus is one of the major plant nutrients that is least available in the soil. Consequently, plants have developed numerous morphological, physiological, biochemical, and molecular adaptations to acquire phosphate (Pi). Enhanced ability to acquire Pi and altered gene expression are the hallmarks of plant adaptation to Pi deficiency. The intricate mechanisms involved in maintaining Pi homeostasis reflect the complexity of Pi acquisition and translocation in plants. Recent discoveries of multiple Pi transporters have opened up opportunities to study the molecular basis of Pi acquisition by plants. An increasing number of genes are now known to be activated under Pi starvation. Some of these genes may be involved in Pi acquisition, transfer, and signal transduction during Pi stress. This review provides an overview of plant adaptations leading to enhanced Pi acquisition, with special emphasis on recent developments in the molecular biology of Pi acquisition.

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