Phosphorus uptake is associated with the rhizosheath formation of mature cluster roots in white lupin under soil drying and phosphorus deficiency

Mehtab Muhammad Aslam, Joseph K. Karanja, Wei Yuan, Qian Zhang, Jianhua Zhang, Weifeng Xu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Phosphorus (P) deficiency largely restricts plant growth and lead to severe yield losses. Therefore, identification of novel root traits to improve P uptake is needed to circumvent yield losses. White lupin (Lupinus albus) is a legume crop that develops cluster roots and has the high phosphorus use efficiency in low P soils. We aimed to investigate the association between cluster roots (CR) rhizosheath formation and P uptake in white lupin. Rhizosheath formation and P concentration were evaluated under four soil treatments. CR increased up to 2.5-fold of overall plant dry weight under SD–P compared to WW + P (control), partly attributable to variations in CR development. Our data showed that SD–P significantly increase rhizosheath weight in white lupin. Among the root segments, MCR showed improved P accumulation in the root which is associated with increased MCR rhizosheath weight. Additionally, a positive correlation was observed between MCR rhizosheath weight and P uptake. Moreover, high sucrose content was recorded in MCR, which may contribute in CR growth under SD–P. Expression analysis of genes related to sucrose accumulation (LaSUC1, LaSUC5, and LaSUC9) and phosphorus uptake (LaSPX3, LaPHO1, and LaPHT1) exhibited peaked expression in MCR under SD-P. This indicate that root sucrose status may facilitate P uptake under P starvation. Together, the ability to enhance P uptake of white lupin is largely associated with MCR rhizosheath under SD–P. Our results showed that gene expression modulation of CR forming plant species, demonstrating that these novel root structures may play crucial role in P acquisition from the soil. Our findings could be implicated for developing P and water efficient crop via CR development in sustainable agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-539
Number of pages9
JournalPlant Physiology and Biochemistry
Early online date19 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cluster roots
  • P deficient
  • P uptake
  • Rhizosheath
  • Soil drying
  • White lupin


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