Mechanism by which nitrogen fertilization saves plants from phosphate deficiency

December 9, 2020

Activation of autophagy contributes to plant growth

A joint research group among Tokyo Institute of Technology, RIKEN CSRS, and Meiji University found that excessive nitrogen fertilization to plants alleviates phosphate-starvation stress. They revealed that autophagy activated by decreased carbon to nitrogen ratio (C/N ratio) plays an important role in relieving phosphate-starvation.

They observed that, in Arabidopsis plants, growth inhibition due to phosphate deficiency was reduced when nitrogen was oversupplied simultaneously. The group found that the activation of an autophagy pathway that partially degrades chloroplasts releases phosphate when the concentration ratio of carbon (sugar) to nitrogen was reduced in phosphate-starved plants, thereby allowing to restore the plant growth under phosphate deficiency.

Understanding of the mechanism that controls autophagy in response to the nutritional balance including phosphate, nitrogen, and carbon might  lead to find novel mechanism of plant adaptive response to nutrient starvation, and to develop an avenue for creating nutrient-deficiency resistant plants.


Original article
Plant Physiology doi: 10.1093/plphys/kiaa030
Y. Yoshitake, S. Nakamura, D. Shinozaki, M. Izumi, K. Yoshimoto, H. Ohta, M. Shimojima,
"RCB-mediated chlorophagy caused by oversupply of nitrogen suppresses phosphate-starvation stress in plants".

Masanori Izumi
Senior Scientist
Molecular Bioregulation Research Team