Increasing light intensity enhances cluster-root formation, citrate exudation, and phosphate-uptake capacity in white lupin under phosphate-deficient conditions by affecting the coordination between P and sucrose signals.
Light intensity affects photosynthetic carbon (C) fixation and the supply of carbon to roots. To evaluate interactions between carbon supply and phosphorus (P) supply, effects of light intensity on sucrose accumulation, root growth, cluster root formation, carboxylate exudation, and P uptake capacity were studied in white lupin (Lupinus albus L.) grown hydroponically with either 200 µmol m–2 s–1 or 600 µmol m–2 s–1 light and a sufficient (50 µM P) or deficient (1 µM P) P supply. Plant biomass and root:shoot ratio increased with increasing light intensity, particularly when plants were supplied with sufficient P. Both low P supply and increasing light intensity increased the production of cluster roots and citrate exudation. Transcripts of a phosphoenol pyruvate carboxylase gene (LaPEPC3) in cluster roots (which is related to the exudation of citrate), transcripts of a phosphate transporter gene (LaPT1), and P uptake all increased with increasing light intensity, under both P-sufficient and P-deficient conditions. Across all four experimental treatments, increased cluster root formation and carboxylate exudation were associated with lower P concentration in the shoot and greater sucrose concentration in the roots. It is suggested that C in excess of shoot growth capabilities is translocated to the roots as sucrose, which serves as both a nutritional signal and a C-substrate for carboxylate exudation and cluster root formation.