Plant sulfur nutrition: From Sachs to Big Data

Plant Signal Behav. 2015;10(9):e1055436. doi: 10.1080/15592324.2015.1055436.


Together with water and carbon dioxide plants require 14 essential mineral nutrients to finish their life cycle. The research in plant nutrition can be traced back to Julius Sachs, who was the first to experimentally prove the essentiality of mineral nutrients for plants. Among those elements Sachs showed to be essential is sulfur. Plant sulfur nutrition has been not as extensively studied as the nutrition of nitrogen and phosphate, probably because sulfur was not limiting for agriculture. However, with the reduction of atmospheric sulfur dioxide emissions sulfur deficiency has become common. The research in sulfur nutrition has changed over the years from using yeast and algae as experimental material to adopting Arabidopsis as the plant model as well as from simple biochemical measurements of individual parameters to system biology. Here the evolution of sulfur research from the times of Sachs to the current Big Data is outlined.

Keywords: arabidopsis; glutathione; sulfate assimilation; sulfate uptake; systems biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Sulfur / metabolism*


  • Sulfur