How changing root system architecture can help tackle a reduction in soil phosphate (P) levels for better plant P acquisition

J. HEPPELL, P. TALBOYS, S. PAYVANDI, K. C. ZYGALAKIS, J. FLIEGE, P. J. A. WITHERS, D. L. JONES, T. ROOSE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The readily available global rock phosphate (P) reserves may run out within the next 50-130 years, causing soils to have a reduced P concentration which will affect plant P uptake. Using a combination of mathematical modelling and experimental data, we investigated potential plant-based options for optimizing crop P uptake in reduced soil P environments. By varying the P concentration within a well-mixed agricultural soil, for high and low P (35.5-12.5mgL-1 respectively using Olsen's P index), we investigated branching distributions within a wheat root system that maximize P uptake. Changing the root branching distribution from linear (evenly spaced branches) to strongly exponential (a greater number of branches at the top of the soil) improves P uptake by 142% for low-P soils when root mass is kept constant between simulations. This causes the roots to emerge earlier and mimics topsoil foraging. Manipulating root branching patterns, to maximize P uptake, is not enough on its own to overcome the drop in soil P from high to low P. Further mechanisms have to be considered to fully understand the impact of P reduction on plant development.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-128
Number of pages11
JournalPlant, Cell & Environment
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 24 2014
Externally publishedYes

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