Review: Targeting root ion uptake kinetics to increase plant productivity and nutrient use efficiency (Plant Physiol.)

Roots anchor plants and take up water, but one of their most important and complex functions is to bring a large number of different essential nutrients into the plant. Root architecture affects and is affected by nutrient uptake, but ultimately uptake is largely controlled by membrane-bound ion transporters. Griffiths and York review physical, mathematical and experimental descriptions of ion uptake, including radioactive tracer studies, and depletion from a solution (as a function of initial concentration or time). About half of the studies surveyed used maize roots, followed by barley and rice. The authors observe that few studies compare different genotypes of a species, probably due to the challenging nature of available methods. Modeling and simulations can be effective ways to understand how the kinetics and abundance of individual transporters might affect plant growth, as can high-throughput hydroponic systems that could measure nutrient depletion rates in real time. Breeding for enhanced nutrient uptake could provide greater yields from nutrient-poor soils or decrease the use of high-cost, high-impact fertilizers. (Summary by Mary Williams) Plant Physiol. 10.1104/pp.19.01496