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Plant and Soil

, Volume 349, Issue 1–2, pp 121–156 | Cite as

Plant and microbial strategies to improve the phosphorus efficiency of agriculture

  • Alan E. Richardson
  • Jonathan P. Lynch
  • Peter R. Ryan
  • Emmanuel Delhaize
  • F. Andrew Smith
  • Sally E. Smith
  • Paul R. Harvey
  • Megan H. Ryan
  • Erik J. Veneklaas
  • Hans Lambers
  • Astrid Oberson
  • Richard A. Culvenor
  • Richard J. Simpson
Regular Article

Abstract

Background

Agricultural production is often limited by low phosphorus (P) availability. In developing countries, which have limited access to P fertiliser, there is a need to develop plants that are more efficient at low soil P. In fertilised and intensive systems, P-efficient plants are required to minimise inefficient use of P-inputs and to reduce potential for loss of P to the environment.

Scope

Three strategies by which plants and microorganisms may improve P-use efficiency are outlined: (i) Root-foraging strategies that improve P acquisition by lowering the critical P requirement of plant growth and allowing agriculture to operate at lower levels of soil P; (ii) P-mining strategies to enhance the desorption, solubilisation or mineralisation of P from sparingly-available sources in soil using root exudates (organic anions, phosphatases), and (iii) improving internal P-utilisation efficiency through the use of plants that yield more per unit of P uptake.

Conclusions

We critically review evidence that more P-efficient plants can be developed by modifying root growth and architecture, through manipulation of root exudates or by managing plant-microbial associations such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and microbial inoculants. Opportunities to develop P-efficient plants through breeding or genetic modification are described and issues that may limit success including potential trade-offs and trait interactions are discussed. Whilst demonstrable progress has been made by selecting plants for root morphological traits, the potential for manipulating root physiological traits or selecting plants for low internal P concentration has yet to be realised.

Keywords

Carboxylate Inoculant Mineralisation Mycorrhizas Organic anion Phosphatase Rhizosphere Roots Solubilisation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Mark Conyers, Peter Cornish, Keith Helyar and Peter Randall for critical discussion of the ideas expressed in this paper. FAS and SES wish to acknowledge the Australian Research Council, the South Australian Grain Industry Trust and the Waite Research Institute for research support and AO thanks Else Bünemann and Emmanuel Frossard for stimulating discussions. Preparation of the review was funded in part by Meat and Livestock Australia Ltd and CSIRO’s National Research Flagships Program’s Flagship Collaboration Fund which aims to enhance collaboration between CSIRO’s Flagships, Australian universities and other publicly-funded research agencies.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan E. Richardson
    • 1
    • 6
  • Jonathan P. Lynch
    • 2
  • Peter R. Ryan
    • 3
  • Emmanuel Delhaize
    • 3
  • F. Andrew Smith
    • 4
  • Sally E. Smith
    • 4
  • Paul R. Harvey
    • 5
  • Megan H. Ryan
    • 6
  • Erik J. Veneklaas
    • 6
  • Hans Lambers
    • 6
  • Astrid Oberson
    • 7
  • Richard A. Culvenor
    • 1
  • Richard J. Simpson
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.CSIRO Sustainable Agriculture National Research Flagship/CSIRO Plant IndustryCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Department of HorticultureThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.CSIRO Plant IndustryCanberraAustralia
  4. 4.Soils Group, School of Agriculture, Food and WineThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  5. 5.CSIRO Sustainable Agriculture National Research Flagship/CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, PMB 2Glen OsmondAustralia
  6. 6.School of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and Institute of AgricultureThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  7. 7.Group of Plant Nutrition, Research Station Eschikon, ETH ZurichInstitute of Agricultural SciencesLindauSwitzerland

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