Phosphorus is one of the most important macronutrients for food production. Phosphorus deficiency engenders loss of vigor at young vegetative stage, severe grain and biomass yield reduction in various field crops including wheat (Bilal et al. 2018; Chen et al. 2019), maize (Plénet, Mollier, and Pellerin 2000) and rice (Wissuwa and Ae 2001). Phosphorus input in agriculture fields is projected to increase 51-86% by year 2050 (Mogollón et al. 2018). Food safety will be threatened when the easy-to-extract commercial phosphorus run out. Study showed that global phosphorus reserve will come to depletion in 50-100 years at the current rate of consumption due to its non-renewable nature (Cordell, Drangert, and White 2009).
Misunderstanding of mobility of P fertilizer in soil also caused over-application and water pollution in the last century. Even though phosphorus runoff is usually inconsequential in compare to the amount of fertilizer input, very low concentration of P can cause eutrophication in water bodies (Hart, Quin, and Nguyen 2004). Majority of the P fertilizer are adsorbed and become inaccessible to plant roots. Over-application of P fertilizer has continued to increase the soil legacy P pools (Mogollón et al. 2018; D. Chen et al. 2017). Improving the utilization of legacy P pools could attenuate the increasing need for P input and mitigate the global P crisis.
Colonization by Arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF), a group of obligate mycorrhizal biotrophs, can be found in over 90% of the terrestrial plant taxa(Feijen et al. 2018). AMF and its associated mycorrhizosphere bacteria could mobilize the organic P in the soil and provide the plants with readily available minerals directly through the arbuscules (Battini et al. 2017; Zhang et al. 2018). By exchanging up to 22% of fixed carbon in forms of sugars and lipids, plants could acquire all the phosphate needs from AMF (Smith, Smith, and Jakobsen 2003; Chiu and Paszkowski 2019). However, AM response in plant growth are not always positive in different species and varieties as a result of the interplay between root direct P uptake and plant-AM symbiosis (Smith and Smith 2012). Therefore, it’s essential to understand the molecular mechanisms of P uptake and P-C trading during AM colonization so that crop production can benefit from the AMF-plant symbiosis.
Research interests of our team is to unravel the mechanisms of AMF and plant symbiosis through genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic data, to grain perspectives from the co-evolution of AMF and plants, and eventually to improve the utilization of soil P reservoir by crop species, especially cereals and grain legumes.