Concerns about phosphorus (P) sustainability in agriculture arise not only from the potential of P scarcity but also from the known effects of agricultural P use beyond the field, i.e., eutrophication leading to dead zones in lakes, rivers and coastal oceans due to runoffs from fertilized fields. Plants possess a large number of adaptive responses to P(i) (orthophosphate) limitation that provide potential raw materials to enhance P(i) scavenging abilities of crop plants. Understanding and engineering these adaptive responses to increase the efficiency of crop capture of natural and fertilizer P(i) in soils is one way to optimize P(i) use efficiency (PUE) and, together with other approaches, help to meet the P sustainability challenge in agriculture. Research on the molecular and physiological basis of P(i) uptake is facilitating the generation of plants with enhanced P(i) use efficiency by genetic engineering. Here we describe work done in this direction with emphasis on the up-regulation of plant proton-translocating pyrophosphatases (H(+)-PPases).
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