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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2009 Jun;12(3):291-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2009.04.013. Epub 2009 May 27.

Moving cationic minerals to edible tissues: potassium, magnesium, calcium.

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Scottish Crop Research Institute, Dundee, UK.


The principal dietary source to humans of the essential cationic mineral elements potassium, magnesium and calcium is through edible plants. The accumulation of these elements in edible portions is the product of selective transport processes catalysing their short-distance and long-distance movement within a plant. In this article we review recent work describing the identification and characterisation of the molecular mechanisms catalysing the uptake and distribution of potassium, magnesium and calcium between organs, cell types and subcellular compartments. Although potassium and magnesium are redistributed effectively within the plant, calcium concentrations in phloem-fed tissues, such as fruits, seeds and tubers, are generally low. However, limitations to the redistribution of mineral elements within the plant, and its consequences for the biofortification of edible crops, can be overcome by appropriate mineral fertilisation and plant breeding strategies. The techniques of ionomics can help identify better genotypes.

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