Regulation of macronutrient transport

New Phytol. 2009;181(1):35-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2008.02666.x.


In addition to light, water and CO(2), plants require a number of mineral nutrients, in particular the macronutrients nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and potassium. After uptake from the soil by the root system they are either immediately assimilated into organic compounds or distributed within the plant for usage in different tissues. A good understanding of how the transport of macronutrients into and between plant cells is adjusted to different environmental conditions is essential to achieve an increase of nutrient usage efficiency and nutritional value in crops. Here, we review the current state of knowledge regarding the regulation of macronutrient transport, taking both a physiological and a mechanistic approach. We first describe how nutrient transport is linked to environmental and internal cues such as nutrient, carbon and water availability via hormonal, metabolic and physical signals. We then present information on the molecular mechanisms for regulation of transport proteins, including voltage gating, auto-inhibition, interaction with other proteins, oligomerization and trafficking. Combining of evidence for different nutrients, signals and regulatory levels creates an opportunity for making new connections within a large body of data, and thus contributes to an integrative understanding of nutrient transport.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Inorganic Chemicals / metabolism*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / physiology
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs


  • Inorganic Chemicals
  • Membrane Transport Proteins