We are interested in understanding the molecular changes that occur in response to phosphate starvation in the roots of tomato plants. Aeroponics offers a unique way to study the changes that occur in the roots of plants. Tomato plants were grown in an aeroponic system developed by L.A. Peterson at the Univ. of Wisconsin. Aeroponically grown tomato plants were treated with various concentrations of phosphate (Pi) ranging from 0 to 250 μm. Plants were harvested at different times after the initiation of Pi deficiency treatments for nutrient analysis and gene expression studies. Several changes in essential nutrient content were observed. A differential accumulation of magnesium between the root and shoot tissue of phosphorus-starved plants was noticed. The expression of a recently cloned phosphate starvation induced gene (TPSI1) increased with decreasing concentration of Pi in the growth media. There is a strong correlation between the concentration of the Pi in the growth media and expression of the gene. The effect of Pi starvation on the gene expression in different parts of the plant, including old and young leaves, will be discussed.
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