Aluminium tolerance in plants and the complexing role of organic acids

Trends Plant Sci. 2001 Jun;6(6):273-8. doi: 10.1016/s1360-1385(01)01961-6.


The aluminium cation Al(3+) is toxic to many plants at micromolar concentrations. A range of plant species has evolved mechanisms that enable them to grow on acid soils where toxic concentrations of Al(3+) can limit plant growth. Organic acids play a central role in these aluminium tolerance mechanisms. Some plants detoxify aluminium in the rhizosphere by releasing organic acids that chelate aluminium. In at least two species, wheat and maize, the transport of organic acid anions out of the root cells is mediated by aluminium-activated anion channels in the plasma membrane. Other plants, including species that accumulate aluminium in their leaves, detoxify aluminium internally by forming complexes with organic acids.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetyl Coenzyme A / metabolism
  • Aluminum / metabolism*
  • Aluminum / toxicity
  • Anions / metabolism
  • Carboxylic Acids / chemistry
  • Carboxylic Acids / metabolism*
  • Citric Acid / metabolism
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Edible Grain / metabolism
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Soil


  • Anions
  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Ion Channels
  • Soil
  • Citric Acid
  • Acetyl Coenzyme A
  • Aluminum