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J Integr Plant Biol. 2014 Mar;56(3):192-220. doi: 10.1111/jipb.12163. Epub 2014 Feb 26.

Molecular mechanisms underlying phosphate sensing, signaling, and adaptation in plants.

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Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences, University of California, Davis, California, 95616, USA.


As an essential plant macronutrient, the low availability of phosphorus (P) in most soils imposes serious limitation on crop production. Plants have evolved complex responsive and adaptive mechanisms for acquisition, remobilization and recycling of phosphate (Pi) to maintain P homeostasis. Spatio-temporal molecular, physiological, and biochemical Pi deficiency responses developed by plants are the consequence of local and systemic sensing and signaling pathways. Pi deficiency is sensed locally by the root system where hormones serve as important signaling components in terms of developmental reprogramming, leading to changes in root system architecture. Root-to-shoot and shoot-to-root signals, delivered through the xylem and phloem, respectively, involving Pi itself, hormones, miRNAs, mRNAs, and sucrose, serve to coordinate Pi deficiency responses at the whole-plant level. A combination of chromatin remodeling, transcriptional and posttranslational events contribute to globally regulating a wide range of Pi deficiency responses. In this review, recent advances are evaluated in terms of progress toward developing a comprehensive understanding of the molecular events underlying control over P homeostasis. Application of this knowledge, in terms of developing crop plants having enhanced attributes for P use efficiency, is discussed from the perspective of agricultural sustainability in the face of diminishing global P supplies.


Adaptation; P use efficiency; crop engineering strategies; hormone networks; local and long-distance sensing; phosphate; stress responses; systemic signaling; transcriptional regulation; transport systems

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