Plants have evolved elaborate metabolic and developmental adaptations to low phosphorus availability. Biochemical responses to phosphate limitation include increased production and secretion of phosphate-acquisition proteins such as nucleases, acid phosphatases, and high-affinity phosphate transporters. However, the signal transduction pathways that sense phosphate availability and integrate the phosphate-starvation response in plants are unknown. We have devised a screen for conditional mutants in Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. to dissect signaling of phosphate limitation. Our genetic screen is based on the facultative ability of wild-type Arabidopsis plants to metabolize exogenous DNA when inorganic phosphate is limiting. After screening 50,000 M2 seedlings, we isolated 22 confirmed mutant lines that showed severely impaired growth on medium containing DNA as the only source of phosphorus, but which recovered on medium containing soluble inorganic phosphate. Characterization of nine such mutant lines demonstrated an inability to utilize either DNA or RNA. One mutant line, psr1 (phosphate starvation response), had significantly reduced activities of phosphate-starvation-inducible isoforms of ribonuclease and acid phosphatase under phosphate-limiting conditions. The data suggest that a subset of the selected mutations impairs the expression of more than one phosphate-starvation-inducible enzyme required for utilization of exogenous nucleic acids, and may thus affect regulatory components of a Pi starvation response pathway in higher plants.