Nature and nurture: the importance of seed phosphorus content

White, Philip; Veneklaas, Erik
August 2012
Plant & Soil;Aug2012, Vol. 357 Issue 1/2, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Low phytoavailability of phosphorus (P) limits crop production worldwide. Increasing seed P content can improve plant establishment and increase yields. This is thought to be a consequence of faster initial root growth, which gives seedlings earlier access to growth-limiting resources, such as water and mineral elements. It can be calculated that seed P reserves can sustain maximal growth of cereal seedlings for several weeks after germination, until the plant has three or more leaves and an extensive root system. Case study: In this issue of Plant and Soil, Muhammad Nadeem and colleagues report (1) that measurable P uptake by roots of maize seedlings begins about 5 d after germination, (2) that the commencement of root P uptake is coincident with the transition from carbon heterotrophy to carbon autotrophy, and (3) that neither the timing nor the rate of uptake of exogenous P by the developing root system is influenced by initial seed P content. Hypothesis: Here it is hypothesised that the delay in P acquisition by roots of maize seedlings might be explained if the expression of genes encoding phosphate transporters is not upregulated either (1) because the plant has sufficient P for growth or (2) because a systemic signal from the shoot, which relies on photosynthesis or phloem development, is not produced, translocated or perceived.


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