• Triticum aestivum;
  • acid phosphatase;
  • glucose 1-phosphate;
  • inositol hexaphosphate;
  • phosphate;
  • phosphomonoesterase;
  • phosphorus;
  • phytase;
  • soil organic P;
  • wheat


Wheat seedlings exhibited a differential ability to utilize P from a range of organic P substrates when grown in agar culture under sterile conditions. Plants showed limited ability to obtain P from inositol hexaphosphate (IHP), whereas other monoester substrates such as glucose 1-phosphate (G1P), were equivalent sources of P for plant growth as compared with inorganic phosphate (Pi). Poor utilization of IHP was exemplified by significantly lower rates of dry matter accumulation and reduced P content of tissues, which were generally not significantly different to control plants that were grown in the absence of added P. The inability of wheat seedlings to obtain P from IHP was not associated with poor substrate availability but was due to either insufficient root phytase activity or inappropriate localization of phytase within root tissues. Phytase activities of 4 and 24 mU g1 root fresh weight (FW) were determined for crude root extracts prepared from plants that were grown with either adequate P or under deficient conditions, respectively. Similar levels of phytase activity (approximately 12 mU g1 FW) were observed in assays using intact roots, although no secreted activity was detected. By comparison, a secreted acid phosphomonoesterase activity was observed, and activities of between 466 and 1029 mU phosphomonoesterase g1 root FW were measured for intact roots. On the basis of the differences in enzyme activity, and the observed differences in the ability of wheat seedlings to utilize G1P and IHP, it is evident that low intrinsic levels of phytase activity in wheat roots is a critical factor that limits the ability of wheat to obtain P from phytate when supplied in agar under non-limiting conditions. This hypothesis was further supported by the observation that the ability of wheat to obtain P from IHP was significantly improved when the seedlings were inoculated with a soil bacterium (Pseudomonas sp. strain CCAR59) that possesses phytase activity.