The complex role of mitochondrial metabolism in plant aluminum resistance

The majority of soils in tropical and subtropical regions are acidic, rendering the soil a major limitation to plant growth and food production in many developing countries. High concentrations of soluble aluminum cations, particularly Al3+, are largely responsible for reducing root elongation and disrupting nutrient and water uptake. Two mechanisms, namely, the exclusion mechanism and tolerance mechanism, have been proposed to govern Al3+ resistance in plants. Both mechanisms are related to mitochondrial activity as well as to mitochondrial metabolism and organic acid transport. Here, we review the considerable progress that has been made towards developing an understanding of the physiological role of mitochondria in the aluminum response and discuss the potential for using this knowledge in next-generation engineering.

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