Root Structure and Functioning for Efficient Acquisition of Phosphorus: Matching Morphological and Physiological Traits

Hans Lambers, Michael Shane, Michael Cramer, Stuart Pearse, Erik Veneklaas

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767 Citations (Scopus)


center dot Background Global phosphorus (P) reserves are being depleted, with half-depletion predicted to occur between 2040 and 2060. Most of the P applied in fertilizers may be sorbed by soil, and not be available for plants lacking specific adaptations. On the severely P-impoverished soils of south-western Australia and the Cape region in South Africa, non-mycorrhizal species exhibit highly effective adaptations to acquire P. A wide range of these non-mycorrhizal species, belonging to two monocotyledonous and eight dicotyledonous families, produce root clusters. Non-mycorrhizal species with root clusters appear to be particularly effective at accessing P when its availability is extremely dot Scope There is a need to develop crops that are highly effective at acquiring inorganic P (P-i) from P-sorbing soils. Traits such as those found in non-mycorrhizal root-cluster-bearing species in Australia, South Africa and other P-impoverished environments are highly desirable for future crops. Root clusters combine a specialized structure with a specialized metabolism. Native species with such traits could be domesticated or crossed with existing crop species. An alternative approach would be to develop future crops with root clusters based on knowledge of the genes involved in development and functioning of root dot Conclusions Root clusters offer enormous potential for future research of both a fundamental and a strategic nature. New discoveries of the development and functioning of root clusters in both monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous families are essential to produce new crops with superior P-acquisition traits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-713
JournalAnnals of Botany
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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