Plant and Soil

, Volume 368, Issue 1–2, pp 87–99 | Cite as

Physiological and molecular responses to magnesium nutritional imbalance in plants

  • Nathalie Verbruggen
  • Christian Hermans
Regular Article



Magnesium (Mg) is pivotal for many biochemical and physiological processes in plants. Mg biological functions include a key role in photosynthesis, in protein synthesis, as well as in nucleotide metabolism. However, Mg nutrition of plants remains little examined compared with other essential elements.


The review summarizes the current knowledge on physiological targets of Mg imbalances. Recently generated transcriptome profiles in response to Mg shortage and excess are also presented.


Sugar accumulation in source leaves is a major consequence of Mg shortage that can limit plant growth most probably by down regulation of photosynthesis activity. Newly identified molecular targets of Mg imbalance are appraised in relation to their potential contribution to Mg deficiency phenotypic emergence. In particular a potential role of the circadian clock and change in phytohormones concentration and/or signalling in the orchestration of the Mg deficiency response is possible. The development of markers for incipient Mg deficiency appears to be a challenging task.


Magnesium nutrition Sugar transport Biomass allocation Global transcriptomics 



C.H. is research associate of the Fonds pour la Recherche Scientifique-FNRS. Research at LPGMP is partly supported by Action de Recherche Concertée (ARC) ‘Nutrition and circadian rhythms in plants’. We thank Simon Conn for critical reading of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11104_2013_1589_MOESM1_ESM.ppt (544 kb)
ESM 1 (PPT 544 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Molecular GeneticsUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium

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