A New Way to Help Plants Utilize Hardly Digestible Organic Phosphorus

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It was estimated that phosphorus stocks in nature will last for the upcoming 60 years, but the researchers of Kazan University looking for ways to prevent the catastrophe.

The current dilemma of inorganic phosphorus depletion and pollution caused by excess phytate levels in the soil poses a long-term risk for sustainable agriculture.

“Phytases are enzymes that hydrolyze phytate and release phosphates. Plants have endogenous phytases in seeds but their activity in other plant tissues is very low. In contrast to many higher eukaryotes, microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) can scavenge phosphorus from phytate because they produce a variety of phytases with very different modes of action and specificity”, shares Lia Valeeva.

Along with her peer Nyamsuren Chuluuntsetseg and supervised by Prof. Margarita Sharipova of the Department of Microbiology and Eugene V. Shakirov of the UT Austin they conducted a unique bioengineering experiment: phytase gene of Pantoea agglomerans (Gram-negative and known to be an opportunistic pathogen) was transplanted to Arabidopsis thaliana weed in order to increase the plant’s ability to break down highly stable and insoluble phosphorus compounds.

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