Globally, phosphorus deficiency is one of the major limitations to agricultural sustainability. In addition, where it is not deficient, phosphorus tends to have detrimental environmental effects. Therefore, optimising the efficiency of phosphorus utilisation is an important scientific goal. Many authors have postulated a role for phosphatase enzymes in catalysing the mineralisation of organic phosphorus in the near root soil environment (rhizospehere).
However, this still remains postulation, relying heavily on relationships drawn between P uptake by crops and enzyme activities measured in the rhizosphere. This proposed course of study aims to gain insight into the dynamics of phosphatase in the rhizosphere by utilising novel techniques such as trangenic plants (expressing phosphatase genes), labelled antibodies for the specific enzymes, confocal microscopy and tomographic scanning. This work will also help assess whether exudation of phosphatase is a useful variable to be investigated for screening crop varieties for phosphorus efficiency.
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