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Front Microbiol. 2015 Oct 16;6:984. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00984. eCollection 2015.

Fungal association and utilization of phosphate by plants: success, limitations, and future prospects.

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School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi, India.
Institute of Plant Physiology, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena Jena, Germany.
School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi, India.
Plant Molecular Biology Group, International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology New Delhi, India ; Institute of Microbial Technology, Amity University Noida, India.
Institute of Microbial Technology, Amity University Noida, India.
Department of Biology, University of Torino Torino, Italy.
Centre for Biomaterials Chemistry, Department of Chemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Linnaeus University Kalmar, Sweden.
Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco CA, USA.


Phosphorus (P) is a major macronutrient for plant health and development. The available form of P is generally low in the rhizosphere even in fertile soils. A major proportion of applied phosphate (Pi) fertilizers in the soil become fixed into insoluble, unavailable forms, which restricts crop production throughout the world. Roots possess two distinct modes of P uptake from the soil, direct and indirect uptake. The direct uptake of P is facilitated by the plant's own Pi transporters while indirect uptake occurs via mycorrhizal symbiosis, where the host plant obtains P primarily from the fungal partner, while the fungus benefits from plant-derived reduced carbon. So far, only one Pi transporter has been characterized from the mycorrhizal fungus Glomus versiforme. As arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi cannot be cultured axenically, their Pi transporter network is difficult to exploite for large scale sustainable agriculture. Alternatively, the root-colonizing endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica can grow axenically and provides strong growth-promoting activity during its symbiosis with a broad spectrum of plants. P. indica contains a high affinity Pi transporter (PiPT) involved in improving Pi nutrition levels in the host plant under P limiting conditions. As P. indica can be manipulated genetically, it opens new vistas to be used in P deficient fields.


phosphate transport proteins; phosphates; phsophate uptake; rhizosphere; transporters

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