Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 711–726 | Cite as

Genome-wide identification and comparative analysis of phosphate starvation-responsive transcription factors in maize and three other gramineous plants

  • Yunjian Xu
  • Fang Liu
  • Guomin Han
  • Beijiu Cheng
Original Article


Key message

The present study identified several important candidate Pi regulation genes of maize and provides a better understanding on the generation of PHR genes in gramineous plants.


Plants have evolved adaptive responses to cope with low phosphate (Pi) soils. The previous studies have indicated that phosphate starvation response (PHR) genes play central roles in regulating plant Pi starvation responses. However, the investigation of PHR family in gramineous plants is limited. In this study, we identified 64 PHR genes in four gramineous plants, including maize, rice, sorghum, and brachypodium, and conducted systematical analyses on phylogenetic, structure, collinearity, and expression pattern of these PHR genes. Genome synteny analysis revealed that a number of PHR genes were present in the corresponding syntenic blocks of maize, rice, sorghum, and brachypodium, indicating that large-scale duplication events contributed significantly to the expansion and evolution of PHR genes in these gramineous plants. Gene expression analysis showed that many PHR genes were expressed in various tissues, suggesting that these genes are involved in Pi redistribution and allocation. In addition, the expression levels of PHR genes from maize and rice under low Pi stress conditions revealed that some PHRs may play an important role in Pi starvation response. Our results provided a better understanding on the generation of PHR genes in gramineous plants and identified several important candidate Pi regulation genes of maize.


Phosphate starvation responsive (PHR) Evolution Gene duplication Expression Gramineous Maize 



This study was financially supported by the National Science Foundation of China (No. 31470465 and 31640057) and the Science and Technology Major Project of Anhui Province (15czz03119).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

299_2018_2262_MOESM1_ESM.docx (270 kb)
Figure S1 Ten sequence logos for common motifs among PHR genes of maize, sorghum, rice, and brachypodium (DOCX 270 KB)
299_2018_2262_MOESM2_ESM.docx (83 kb)
Figure S2 Distribution of four plants PHR genes on each chromosome. On the top of each bar is the chromosome number (DOCX 82 KB)
299_2018_2262_MOESM3_ESM.docx (74 kb)
Figure S3 Phylogenetic tree of maize PHRs and other identified PHRs in Arabidopsis and rice (DOCX 73 KB)
299_2018_2262_MOESM4_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (DOCX 17 KB)
299_2018_2262_MOESM5_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 5 (DOCX 17 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Engineering Laboratory of Crop Stress ResistanceAnhui Agricultural UniversityHefeiChina
  2. 2.College of AgronomyAnhui Agricultural UniversityHefeiChina

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