Enhanced phosphorus uptake in transgenic tobacco plants that overproduce citrate

José López-Bucio, Octavio Martínez De la Vega, Arturo Guevara-García, Luis Herrera-Estrella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


Phosphorus (P) is one of the most important nutrients limiting agricultural production worldwide. In acid and alkaline soils, which make up over 70% of the world's arable land, P forms insoluble compounds that are not available for plant use. To reduce P deficiencies and ensure plant productivity, nearly 30 million tons of P fertilizer are applied every year. Up to 80% of the applied P fertilizer is lost because it becomes immobile and unavailable for plant uptake. Therefore, the development of novel plant varieties more efficient in the use of P represents the best alternative to reduce the use of P fertilizers and achieve a more sustainable agriculture. We show here that the ability to use insoluble P compounds can be significantly enhanced by engineering plants to produce more organic acids. Our results show that when compared to the controls, citrate-overproducing plants yield more leaf and fruit biomass when grown under P-limiting conditions and require less P fertilizer to achieve optimal growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450-453
Number of pages4
JournalNature Biotechnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Citrate overproduction
  • Mycorrhiza
  • Phosphorus acquisition
  • Transgenic plants


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