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Limitations to the Potential of Transgenic Trifolium subterraneum L. Plants that Exude Phytase when Grown in Soils with a Range of Organic P Content

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Abstract

Growth and P-nutrition of transgenic Trifolium subterraneum L. which express a chimeric fungal phytase gene (ex::phyA) was compared to azygous and wild-type controls in a range of soils that differed in organic P content. Shoot and root growth by plant lines were measured and effects of reducing the influence of soil microorganisms were investigated by pasteurising the soils. Plants that expressed phyA did not have better P-nutrition than control plants after 56 days growth, except in a soil that contained a large concentration of both total organic P and organic P that was amenable to hydrolysis by a plant-derived phytase. Pasteurisation had little effect on the relative P-nutrition of the various plant lines in any of the soils. Roots of transgenic plants that expressed ex::phyA were shorter than controls up to 21 days growth in a number of soils, which resulted in an initial greater P accumulation efficiency. However, greater P accumulation efficiency was only maintained in the soil where significant growth and P nutrition responses were also observed. Availability of inositol phosphates in soil is a major factor that limits the effectiveness of expressing fungal phytase genes in plants as a means to improve P-nutrition. Reducing the influence of rhizosphere microorganisms appeared to have little effect on the P-nutrition of plant lines, but the longer root system produced by control plants may have initially provided them with greater access to soil P resources. This research highlights the inherent difficulty in improving the P-nutrition of plants by the manipulation of single traits in isolation, but does provide some evidence that such approaches can be successful under certain edaphic conditions.

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George, T.S., Richardson, A.E., Smith, J.B. et al. Limitations to the Potential of Transgenic Trifolium subterraneum L. Plants that Exude Phytase when Grown in Soils with a Range of Organic P Content. Plant Soil 278, 263–274 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-005-8699-2

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