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Phosphite treatment can improve root biomass and nutrition use efficiency in wheat

Mohammed, Umar; Davis, Jayne; Rossall, Steve; Swarup, Kamal; Czyzewicz, Nathan; Bhosale, Rahul; Foulkes, John; Murchie, Erik H.; Swarup, Ranjan

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Umar Mohammed

Jayne Davis

Steve Rossall

Kamal Swarup

Nathan Czyzewicz

Professor of Applied Plant Physiology


Phosphite represents a reduced form of phosphate that belongs to a class of crop growth-promoting chemicals termed biostimulants. Previous research has shown that phosphite application can enhance root growth, but its underlying mechanism, especially during environmental stresses, remains elusive. To uncover this, we undertook a series of morphological and physiological analyses under nutrient, water and heat stresses following a foliar application in wheat. Non-invasive 3D imaging of root system architecture directly in soil using X-ray Computed Tomography revealed that phosphite treatment improves root architectural traits and increased root biomass. Biochemical and physiological assays identified that phosphite treatment significantly increases Nitrate Reductase (NR) activity, leaf photosynthesis and stomatal conductance, suggesting improved Nitrogen and Carbon assimilation, respectively. These differences were more pronounced under heat or drought treatment (photosynthesis and photosystem II stability) and nutrient deficiency (root traits and NR). Overall our results suggest that phosphite treatment improves the ability of plants to tolerate abiotic stresses through improved Nitrogen and Carbon assimilation, combined with improved root growth which may improve biomass and yield.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 6, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 31, 2022
Publication Date Oct 31, 2022
Deposit Date Mar 14, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 15, 2023
Journal Frontiers in Plant Science
Electronic ISSN 1664-462X
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Article Number 1017048
Keywords Plant Science, phosphite, biostimulants, wheat, oilseed rape, resource use efficiency, nutrition use efficiency, nitrate reductase
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