Sulfur, Phosphorus, and Iron Metabolism in Plants

  • Manju A. Lal


Sulfur is an essential element for plant growth. Though it constitutes only 0.1% of the dry weight of a plant, its requirement for the plant is crucial. It is a constituent of sulfur-containing amino acids, cysteine, and methionine which are integral to the protein structure. Cysteine residues are responsible for holding proteins in proper conformation because of disulfide linkages (-S-S-) between two –SH containing amino acids. Iron-sulfur (4Fe-4S) clusters present in various proteins are engaged in electron transport reactions. Sulfur is also a constituent of a number of molecules such as lipoic acid, thiamin, biotin, ACP, and coenzyme A, which are required as cofactors by various enzymes. Sulfur-containing lipids, sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol, are structural constituents of thylakoids. Various secondary metabolites produced from cysteine and methionine have diverse roles in plants. Many molecules synthesized by the plants in response to abiotic and biotic stress contain sulfur. These include phytoalexins, thioredoxin, alliins, glucosinolates, etc. Alliins are found in onion and garlic, while glucosinolates are found in members of family Brassicaceae and are responsible for their flavor and smell. In some plants, elemental sulfur is deposited which functions as a potent fungicide (Fig. 12.1).


Adenosine 5′-phosphosulfur Dimethylsulfoniopropionate Ferredoxin reductase/oxidase (FRO) Ferretin Frataxin (FH) Glutathione Iron-sulfur proteins Nicotianamine (NA) 

Suggested Further Readings

  1. Jones RL, Helen O, Howard T, Susan W (2013) The molecular life of plants. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, pp 477–491Google Scholar
  2. Smith AM, Coupland G, Liam D, Harberd N, Jones J, Martin C, Sablowski R, Amey A (2010) Plant biology. Garland Science/Taylor & Francis Group, New York, pp 284–293Google Scholar
  3. Taiz L, Zeiger E, Moller IM, Murphy A (2015) Plant physiology and development, 6th edn. Sinauer Associates, Inc, Sunderland, pp 367–370Google Scholar
  4. Long SR, Kahn M, Seefeldt L, Tsay Y, Kopriva S (2015) Nitrogen and sulfur. In: Buchanan BB, Gruissem W, Jones RL (eds) Biochemistry and molecular biology of plants. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, pp 746–767Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manju A. Lal
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyKirori Mal College, University of DelhiNew DelhiIndia

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