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Ann Bot. 2010 Apr;105(4):513-26. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcq015. Epub 2010 Feb 24.

Regulation of phosphate starvation responses in higher plants.

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  • 1School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.



Phosphorus (P) is often a limiting mineral nutrient for plant growth. Many soils worldwide are deficient in soluble inorganic phosphate (P(i)), the form of P most readily absorbed and utilized by plants. A network of elaborate developmental and biochemical adaptations has evolved in plants to enhance P(i) acquisition and avoid starvation.


Controlling the deployment of adaptations used by plants to avoid P(i) starvation requires a sophisticated sensing and regulatory system that can integrate external and internal information regarding P(i) availability. In this review, the current knowledge of the regulatory mechanisms that control P(i) starvation responses and the local and long-distance signals that may trigger P(i) starvation responses are discussed. Uncharacterized mutants that have P(i)-related phenotypes and their potential to give us additional insights into regulatory pathways and P(i) starvation-induced signalling are also highlighted and assessed.


An impressive list of factors that regulate P(i) starvation responses is now available, as is a good deal of knowledge regarding the local and long-distance signals that allow a plant to sense and respond to P(i) availability. However, we are only beginning to understand how these factors and signals are integrated with one another in a regulatory web able to control the range of responses demonstrated by plants grown in low P(i) environments. Much more knowledge is needed in this agronomically important area before real gains can be made in improving P(i) acquisition in crop plants.

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