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J Exp Bot. 2013 Mar;64(5):1403-11. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ert023. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Characterization of root response to phosphorus supply from morphology to gene analysis in field-grown wheat.

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The State Key Laboratory for Plant Cell and Chromosome Engineering, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, PR China.


The adaptations of root morphology, physiology, and biochemistry to phosphorus supply have been characterized intensively. However, characterizing these adaptations at molecular level is largely neglected under field conditions. Here, two consecutive field experiments were carried out to investigate the agronomic traits and root traits of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) at six P-fertilizer rates. Root samples were collected at flowering to investigate root dry weight, root length density, arbusular-mycorrhizal colonization rate, acid phosphatase activity in rhizosphere soil, and expression levels of genes encoding phosphate transporter, phosphatase, ribonucleases, and expansin. These root traits exhibited inducible, inhibitory, or combined responses to P deficiency, and the change point for responses to P supply was at or near the optimal P supply for maximum grain yield. This research improves the understanding of mechanisms of plant adaptation to soil P in intensive agriculture and provides useful information for optimizing P management based on the interactions between soil P dynamics and root processes.

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