Phosphite (H²PO³) induces a range of physiological and developmental responses in plants by disturbing the homeostasis of the macronutrient phosphate. Because of its close structural resemblance to phosphate, phosphite impairs the sensing, membrane transport, and subcellular compartmentation of phosphate. In addition, phosphite induces plant defence responses by an as yet unknown mode of action. In this study, the acclimation of Arabidopsis thaliana plants to a sustained phosphite supply in the growth medium was investigated and compared with plants growing under varying phosphate supplies. Unlike phosphate, phosphite did not suppress the formation of lateral roots in several Arabidopsis accessions. In addition, the expression of well-documented phosphate-starvation-induced genes, such as miRNA399d and At4, was not repressed by phosphite accumulation, whilst the induction of PHT1;1 and PAP1 was accentuated. Thus, a mimicking of phosphate by phosphite was not observed for these classical phosphate-starvation responses. Metabolomic analysis of phosphite-treated plants showed changes in several metabolite pools, most prominently those of aspartate, asparagine, glutamate, and serine. These alterations in amino acid pools provide novel insights for the understanding of phosphite-induced pathogen resistance.
Berkowitz, O., Jost, R., Kollehn, D. O., Fenske, R., Finnegan, P., O'Brien, P. A., ... Lambers, H. (2013). Acclimation responses of Arabidopsis thaliana to sustained phosphite treatments. Journal of Experimental Botany, 64(6), 1731 - 1743. https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/ert037