, Volume 348, Issue 1-2, pp 29-61
Date: 14 Jul 2011

Acquisition of phosphorus and other poorly mobile nutrients by roots. Where do plant nutrition models fail?

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Abstract

Background

In the context of increasing global food demand, ecological intensification of agroecosystems is required to increase nutrient use efficiency in plants while decreasing fertilizer inputs. Better exploration and exploitation of soil resources is a major issue for phosphorus, given that rock phosphate ores are finite resources, which are going to be exhausted in decades from now on.

Scope

We review the processes governing the acquisition by plants of poorly mobile nutrients in soils, with a particular focus on processes at the root–soil interface. Rhizosphere processes are poorly accounted for in most plant nutrition models. This lack largely explains why present-day models fail at predicting the actual uptake of poorly mobile nutrients such as phosphorus under low input conditions. A first section is dedicated to biophysical processes and the spatial/temporal development of the rhizosphere. A second section concentrates on biochemical/biogeochemical processes, while a third section addresses biological/ecological processes operating in the rhizosphere.

Conclusions

New routes for improving soil nutrient efficiency are addressed, with a particular focus on breeding and ecological engineering options. Better mimicking natural ecosystems and exploiting plant diversity appears as an appealing way forward, on this long and winding road towards ecological intensification of agroecosystems.

Responsible Editor: Hans Lambers.