Physiology and Spatio-temporal Relations of Nutrient Acquisition by Roots and Root Symbionts

  • Alex J. ValentineEmail author
  • Aleysia Kleinert
  • Rochelle Thuynsma
  • Samson Chimphango
  • Joanna Dames
  • Vagner A. Benedito
Part of the Progress in Botany book series (BOTANY, volume 78)


Among the various functions of roots, nutrient acquisition (via soil uptake or through symbiotic relationships) is one of the most essential for land plants. Soil from natural and agricultural ecosystems may impede plant nutrient acquisition, by many factors such as mineral availabilities either in excess or deficient supply, depletion of organic matter, extreme variations in water supply, and many other physical and chemical features. In order to survive, plants need to undergo developmental and physiological mechanisms to cope with these extreme soil situations. Here we review how plants control nutrient acquisition by dynamically changing root architecture for improved soil space exploration, as well as altering cellular-level function for enhanced nutrient uptake, via apoplastic acidification, exudation of enzymes and metabolites (organic acids, secondary metabolites) and constantly changing the composition of transporters at the plasma membrane. These changes start with environmental cues which induce cell signaling and involve hormones and coordinated regulatory genes networks that drive the root’s developmental plasticity as well as the cell’s biochemical dynamics. Mutualistic root symbioses, such as mycorrhizae and rhizobial-induced nodulation, are also important to provide essential nutrients to the plant, which are tightly regulated in order to only occur at plant’s benefit. We also explore molecular mechanisms which roots have evolved to cope with nutritional, as well as other soil stresses, such as aluminium toxicity and heavy metals. Overall, understanding root dynamics under several environmental variables at different perspectives, from root architecture to biochemistry to genetic levels will allow us to better explore the spatial and temporal relations of roots with their mineral nutrient environment.


Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Lateral Root Root Hair Nutrient Acquisition Root Architecture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex J. Valentine
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aleysia Kleinert
    • 1
  • Rochelle Thuynsma
    • 1
  • Samson Chimphango
    • 2
  • Joanna Dames
    • 3
  • Vagner A. Benedito
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of ScienceStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry, Faculty of ScienceRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  4. 4.Division of Plant and Soil SciencesWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

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