Microbial products trigger amino acid exudation from plant roots. Academic Article uri icon


  • Plants naturally cycle amino acids across root cell plasma membranes, and any net efflux is termed exudation. The dominant ecological view is that microorganisms and roots passively compete for amino acids in the soil solution, yet the innate capacity of roots to recover amino acids present in ecologically relevant concentrations is unknown. We find that, in the absence of culturable microorganisms, the influx rates of 16 amino acids (each supplied at 2.5 microm) exceed efflux rates by 5% to 545% in roots of alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Medicago truncatula, maize (Zea mays), and wheat (Triticum aestivum). Several microbial products, which are produced by common soil microorganisms such as Pseudomonas bacteria and Fusarium fungi, significantly enhanced the net efflux (i.e. exudation) of amino acids from roots of these four plant species. In alfalfa, treating roots with 200 microm phenazine, 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol, or zearalenone increased total net efflux of 16 amino acids 200% to 2,600% in 3 h. Data from (15)N tests suggest that 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol blocks amino acid uptake, whereas zearalenone enhances efflux. Thus, amino acid exudation under normal conditions is a phenomenon that probably reflects both active manipulation and passive uptake by microorganisms, as well as diffusion and adsorption to soil, all of which help overcome the innate capacity of plant roots to reabsorb amino acids. The importance of identifying potential enhancers of root exudation lies in understanding that such compounds may represent regulatory linkages between the larger soil food web and the internal carbon metabolism of the plant.

published proceedings

  • Plant Physiol

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Phillips, D. A., Fox, T. C., King, M. D., Bhuvaneswari, T. V., & Teuber, L. R.

citation count

  • 228

complete list of authors

  • Phillips, Donald A||Fox, Tama C||King, Maria D||Bhuvaneswari, TV||Teuber, Larry R

publication date

  • September 2004