Phosphate is an essential nutrient that is present in soils at low concentration with poor mobility and therefore represents a limiting factor for plant growth. The exponential demand of phosphate as a result of world population increase (50% by 2050) could lead to a world shortage of phosphate in a near future. The EmPhos project aims at characterising how plants perceive and adapt their root architecture to low phosphate concentrations. We will dissect and model the auxin regulation of phosphate response using innovative tools (Strand 1) and identify new genes responsible for the increase of lateral root number in response to phosphate starvation (Strand 2). This research will take advantage of tools developped by the applicant during his Marie Curie fellowship and will integrate tools and ressources developped by the host laboratory (Strand 3). This project identifies a collaboration with Prof. Malcolm Bennett (Centre for Plant Integrative Biology, Nottingham, UK) and builds upon the award of a long-term EMBO fellowship (ALTF 503-2010) to the applicant in Dr. Laurent Nussaume's laboratory (Laboratoire de Biologie du Développement des Plantes, CEA Cadarache, France). The outcome of this project will greatly improve our understanding of how plants perceive a low phosphate signal and how this signal is further transduced to generate an architectural response. Therefore, it will shed light on how plants adapt to a changing environment which may lead to application in crop improvement.
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