Engineering crop plants: getting a handle on phosphate

Trends Plant Sci. 2002 Mar;7(3):118-25. doi: 10.1016/s1360-1385(01)02222-1.


In plant seeds, most of the phosphate is in the form of phytic acid. Phytic acid is largely indigestible by monogastric animals and is the single most important factor hindering the uptake of a range of minerals. Engineering crop plants to produce a heterologous phytase improves phosphate bioavailability and reduces phytic acid excretion. This reduces the phosphate load on agricultural ecosystems and thereby alleviates eutrophication of the aquatic environment. Improved phosphate availability also reduces the need to add inorganic phosphate, a non-renewable resource. Iron and zinc uptake might be improved, which is significant for human nutrition in developing countries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 6-Phytase / biosynthesis*
  • Crops, Agricultural / enzymology
  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics*
  • Ecosystem
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Phosphates / metabolism*
  • Phytic Acid / metabolism*
  • Soil / analysis
  • Water Pollution / prevention & control
  • Zinc / metabolism


  • Phosphates
  • Soil
  • Phytic Acid
  • Iron
  • 6-Phytase
  • Zinc