Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Improved phosphate uptake for crops

A lack of phosphorous limits crop yields on up to 40 % of arable land worldwide, including Europe. An EU-funded initiative investigated how crops can improve their use of phosphates.
Improved phosphate uptake for crops
Phosphorous is an essential element for plant growth and is involved in a multitude of functions. Low availability of inorganic phosphorous (Pi) is a major constraint in many low-input agricultural systems around the world. Therefore, the EU-funded IMPACT (Improved millets for phosphate acquisition and transport) project aimed to increase phosphate use efficiency of the key crop foxtail millet (Setaria italica).

Several families of membrane transport proteins known as PHt1 are involved in the uptake of Pi from the soil and its distribution within the plant. IMPACT characterised the PHt1 of S. italica to discover if expression level or affinity for substrate is an effective approach for increasing phosphate use efficiency.

A total of 54 different genotypes of S. italica were grown on a nutrient free inert medium (perlite) and fed a solution containing either low or high levels of Pi. Extensive phenotyping of seedlings was performed for both levels of Pi. The genotype showed good phenotypic variation in both low and high levels, with genotype 1851 showing the best response to low Pi.

The seed yields of the different varieties of S. italica were also analysed by growing them in natural soils with low and high Pi. A number of plant traits were also analysed and genotype 663 produced the best response in low Pi soil. Genotype 1851, which produced the best results in the green house assays, also performed well in field conditions.

Researchers used 26 simple sequence repeat markers of foxtail millet to find the genetic polymorphism and detect the marker associated with phosphate use efficiency among these genotypes. Overall, the marker SIGMS4692 was found to be the most significant marker for traits associated with low Pi tolerance in S. italica.

Foxtail millet was also transformed with wild-type PHt1 family members and selected mutants and tested for performance on different phosphorous regimes. The transporters SiPHT1;2 and SiPHT1;7 showed higher growth that were near to that obtained with positive control PHO84 under low Pi.

The molecular studies conducted by IMPACT will help to improve phosphate use efficiency in S. italica and improve the yield in other crops, thereby enabling a sustainable agriculture with a reduced supply of synthetic phosphate fertilisers.

Related information


Phosphate, crops, inorganic phosphorous, foxtail millet, Setaria italica, PHt1
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top