Plant Macro‐ and Micronutrient Minerals

Abstract

All plants must obtain a number of inorganic mineral elements from their environment to ensure successful growth and development of both vegetative and reproductive tissues. A total of 14 mineral nutrients are considered to be essential. Several other elements have been shown to have beneficial functions. A plant's ability to obtain adequate amounts of essential minerals depends critically on the availability of these minerals in the soil. Mineral deficiencies impact plant growth by affecting key components of photosynthesis and/or metabolism. The occurrence of deficiency symptoms throughout the plant can differ from older to younger leaves, depending on whether the mineral can be mobilised in the phloem from older senescing tissues to young growing regions of the plant. Mineral fertilisers are used widely in agricultural systems to support crop yields. In addition, fertilisers can be used to ensure that crops are of sufficient quality in terms of their mineral composition.

Key Concepts

  • Plants require 14 essential mineral elements to grow and complete their life cycle.
  • Some mineral elements are required in greater quantities (macronutrients) than others (micronutrients).
  • Other mineral elements have been identified as having beneficial or even essential roles for some plants.
  • Mineral nutrients have many functions, including structural, metabolic, osmotic and signalling roles.
  • Mineral nutrients are taken up in ionic form by plant roots from the soil solution.
  • When a plant has insufficient mineral nutrients, deficiency symptoms occur in different tissues, depending on whether the mineral can be mobilised in the phloem from older senescing tissues to young growing regions of the plant.
  • Mineral and organic forms of nutrients are applied as fertilisers in agricultural systems to sustain crop yields and quality.

Keywords: fertilisers; macronutrient; micronutrient; plant nutrition; roots; soils

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Grusak, Michael A, Broadley, Martin R, and White, Philip J(Dec 2016) Plant Macro‐ and Micronutrient Minerals. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001306.pub2]