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Phosphate supply influenced the growth, yield and expression of PHT1 family phosphate transporters in seven millets

  • Theivanayagam Maharajan
  • Stanislaus Antony CeasarEmail author
  • Thumadath Palayullaparambil Ajeesh Krishna
  • Savarimuthu Ignacimuthu
Original Article


Main conclusion

Phosphate starvation altered the root morphology and phosphate uptake with the induction of PHT1 family transporter genes in root and shoot tissues of seven millets.


Millets are nutrient-rich cereals majorly cultivated in Asia and Africa. Foxtail millet (FoxM), pearl millet (PeaM), finger millet (FinM), kodo millet (KodM), little millet (LitM), proso millet (ProM), and barnyard millet (BarM) were examined for the influence of external phosphorous (P) supply on phenotypic traits, P uptake, yield, and PHosphate Transporter1 (PHT1) family gene expression. Millet seedlings grown under low Pi condition (LPC) produced significantly lower mean values for all traits except for lateral root length (LRL) and lateral root number (LRN) which were increased under LPC. Under LPC, seed weight (SW) also reduced by > 75% and had significantly lower levels of total P (TP) and Pi contents in leaf and root tissues. Expression dynamics of 12 PHT1 family (PHT1;11;12) transporters genes were analyzed in 7 millets. PHT1;2 has been found to be a constitutive transporter gene in all millets. Under LPC, root tissues showed the overexpression of PHT1;2, 1;3, 1;4 and 1;9 in FoxM, PHT1;1, 1;2, 1;3, 1;4, 1;8 and 1;10 in PeaM, PHT1;2 and 1;3 in FinM and ProM and PHT1;3, 1;6 and 1;11 in BarM. In leaf, LPC induced the expression of PHT1;3, 1;4 and 1;6 in FoxM, PHT1;2, 1;3, 1;4 and 1;8 in PeaM, PHT1;2, 1;3 and 1;4 in FinM and KodM, PHT1;2 in LitM and PHT1;4 in ProM and BarnM. This comprehensive study on the influence of P in phenotype, physiology, and molecular responses may help to improve the P uptake and its use efficiency of millets in future.


Gene expression Millets Phenotyping Phosphorous Phosphate transporter 1 (PHT1) Seed yield 



Barnyard millet


Finger millet


Foxtail millet


High/low Pi condition


Kodo millet


Little millet


Lateral root length/number


Pearl millet


Phosphate transporter 1


Primary root length


Proso millet


Root/shoot dry weight


Seed weight (yield)


Total phosphorus



The authors thank the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Hyderabad, India and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India for providing millet seeds. Prof Alison Baker, Centre for Plant Sciences, University of Leeds, UK for supplying foxtail millet PHT1 gene-specific primers.


This work was funded by Loyola College-Times of India Grant (No: 7LCTOI14ERI001) and European Union through a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship to SAC (Fellowship Number: FP7-People-2-11-IIF-Prposal-921672-Acronym IMPACT). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

425_2019_3237_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (504 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 503 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Plant BiotechnologyEntomology Research Institute, Loyola CollegeChennaiIndia
  2. 2.Functional Genomics and Plant Molecular Imaging LabUniversity of LiegeLiegeBelgium

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