Submitted to: Journal of Plant Nutrition
Publication Type: Review article
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2007
Publication Date: 1/1/2008
Citation: Fageria, N.K., Baligar, V.C., Li, Y. 2008. The Role of Nutrient Efficient Plants in Improving Crop Yields in the Twenty First Century. Journal of Plant Nutrition. 31:1121-1151. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: In the 21st century, nutrient efficient plants will play a major role in increasing crop yields compared to the 20th century, mainly due to limited land and water resources available for crop production, higher cost of inorganic fertilizer inputs, and declining trends in crop yields globally. Furthermore, at least 60% of the world’s arable lands have mineral deficiencies or elemental toxicity problems, and on such soils fertilizers and lime amendments are essential for achieving improved crop yields. Nutrient efficient plants are defined as those plants, which produce higher yields per unit of nutrient, applied or absorbed than other plants (standards) under similar agroecological conditions. During the last three decades, much research has been conducted to identify and / or breed nutrient efficient plant species or genotypes/cultivars within species and to further understand the mechanisms of nutrient efficiency in crop plants. However, success in releasing nutrient efficient cultivars has been limited. The main reasons for limited success are that the genetics of plant responses to nutrients and plant interactions with environmental variables are not well understood. During the 20th century, breeding for nutritional traits has been proposed as a strategy to improve the efficiency of fertilizer use or to obtain higher yields in low input agricultural systems. This strategy should continue to receive top priority during the 21st century for developing nutrient efficient crop genotypes. This paper over views the importance of nutrient efficient plants in increasing crop yields in modern agriculture. Further definitions and available methods of calculating nutrient use efficiency, mechanisms for nutrient uptake and use efficiency, role of crops in nutrient use efficiency under biotic and abiotic stresses and breeding strategies to improve nutrient use efficiency in crop plants have been discussed.