Molecular mechanisms and regulation of K+ transport in higher plants

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2003;54:575-603. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.54.031902.134831.


Potassium (K+) plays a number of important roles in plant growth and development. Over the past few years, molecular approaches associated with electrophysiological analyses have greatly advanced our understanding of K+ transport in plants. A large number of genes encoding K+ transport systems have been identified, revealing a high level of complexity. Characterization of some transport systems is providing exciting information at the molecular level on functions such as root K+ uptake and secretion into the xylem sap, K+ transport in guard cells, or K+ influx into growing pollen tubes. In this review, we take stock of this recent molecular information. The main families of plant K+ transport systems (Shaker and KCO channels, KUP/HAK/KT and HKT transporters) are described, along with molecular data on how these systems are regulated. Finally, we discuss a few physiological questions on which molecular studies have shed new light.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Potassium Channels / physiology


  • Plant Proteins
  • Potassium Channels
  • Potassium