Research Topic

Current Perspectives on Plant Ion Transport and Energetics in a Changing Environment

About this Research Topic

Plants undergo selective uptake of mineral nutrients, which are essential for biomass maintenance and growth. For nutrient uptake, plants are equipped with a broad arsenal of transport systems that cope with, sometimes severe and adverse, fluctuations in the environment. The changing conditions might include nutrient availability, pH, salinity, and ion interactions. Furthermore, in special or contaminated ecosystems, ion accumulation inside cells may be toxic. Therefore, plant cells have evolved efficient systems to acquire, store, and keep these elements within specific physiological concentration ranges (homeostasis), which allows the maintenance of metabolic functions.

In spite of the enormous plant diversity and variety of environments, nutrient uptake, compartmentalization, and avoidance are based on common robust molecular mechanisms to mediate specific ion transport and prevent harmful accumulation. Thus, membrane transport systems are key elements for plant nutrition and hence, growth and development. Membrane transport is also involved in signaling. Consequently, controlled transport of ions, hormones, and metabolites across plasma and intracellular membranes is required to integrate cellular and whole-plant function. Ion transport systems display a degree of substrate specificity and operate from a direct energy input or by using the membrane-accumulated energy available for transport. Plant cell membranes are energized by electrogenic proton pumps, which establish and maintain the membrane potential and the electrochemical gradients that energize secondary ion transport. Additionally, ion pumps also work for the active extrusion or sequestration of calcium, quenching signal transduction events, or detoxify and maintain homeostasis of heavy metals such as copper and zinc. Concomitantly, channels and carriers, controlled by a complex regulatory network, maintain plant cell ion traffic and homeostasis to sense environmental stimuli and to drive physiological plant responses. Both, biotic and abiotic factors promote characteristic signaling pathways, which integrate the multiplicity of inputs and modulate the expression and function of plant transport systems.

This Research Topic aims to collect articles addressing the most recent advances on thermodynamics, energetics and biophysical aspects of ion transport mechanisms and signaling pathways that regulate nutrient uptake, long-distance transport, compartmentalization and ion exclusion in plant cells in response to a changing environment. We welcome articles as Original Research, Review, and Methods exploring ion-traffic kinetics, function, regulation, energetics and membrane-transporter interactions, ranging from genes to environmental responses. Special attention will be paid to the identification and characterization of new components participating in ion homeostasis to overcome challenges ahead in the context of global change. We, therefore, welcome contributions related to:

• Kinetics and energetics of ion traffic and compartmentalization in plant cells.
• Ion fluxes in plant signal transduction, nutrition, and growth.
• Role of specific ion transport systems in plant-environment interactions.
• Novel strategies to enhance nutrient uptake and utilization in particular responses to elevated CO2, high temperature, salinity, and nutrient deficiency


Keywords: Nutrient uptake, Ion homeostasis, Plant membrane transport, Abiotic stress, Climate change


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Plants undergo selective uptake of mineral nutrients, which are essential for biomass maintenance and growth. For nutrient uptake, plants are equipped with a broad arsenal of transport systems that cope with, sometimes severe and adverse, fluctuations in the environment. The changing conditions might include nutrient availability, pH, salinity, and ion interactions. Furthermore, in special or contaminated ecosystems, ion accumulation inside cells may be toxic. Therefore, plant cells have evolved efficient systems to acquire, store, and keep these elements within specific physiological concentration ranges (homeostasis), which allows the maintenance of metabolic functions.

In spite of the enormous plant diversity and variety of environments, nutrient uptake, compartmentalization, and avoidance are based on common robust molecular mechanisms to mediate specific ion transport and prevent harmful accumulation. Thus, membrane transport systems are key elements for plant nutrition and hence, growth and development. Membrane transport is also involved in signaling. Consequently, controlled transport of ions, hormones, and metabolites across plasma and intracellular membranes is required to integrate cellular and whole-plant function. Ion transport systems display a degree of substrate specificity and operate from a direct energy input or by using the membrane-accumulated energy available for transport. Plant cell membranes are energized by electrogenic proton pumps, which establish and maintain the membrane potential and the electrochemical gradients that energize secondary ion transport. Additionally, ion pumps also work for the active extrusion or sequestration of calcium, quenching signal transduction events, or detoxify and maintain homeostasis of heavy metals such as copper and zinc. Concomitantly, channels and carriers, controlled by a complex regulatory network, maintain plant cell ion traffic and homeostasis to sense environmental stimuli and to drive physiological plant responses. Both, biotic and abiotic factors promote characteristic signaling pathways, which integrate the multiplicity of inputs and modulate the expression and function of plant transport systems.

This Research Topic aims to collect articles addressing the most recent advances on thermodynamics, energetics and biophysical aspects of ion transport mechanisms and signaling pathways that regulate nutrient uptake, long-distance transport, compartmentalization and ion exclusion in plant cells in response to a changing environment. We welcome articles as Original Research, Review, and Methods exploring ion-traffic kinetics, function, regulation, energetics and membrane-transporter interactions, ranging from genes to environmental responses. Special attention will be paid to the identification and characterization of new components participating in ion homeostasis to overcome challenges ahead in the context of global change. We, therefore, welcome contributions related to:

• Kinetics and energetics of ion traffic and compartmentalization in plant cells.
• Ion fluxes in plant signal transduction, nutrition, and growth.
• Role of specific ion transport systems in plant-environment interactions.
• Novel strategies to enhance nutrient uptake and utilization in particular responses to elevated CO2, high temperature, salinity, and nutrient deficiency


Keywords: Nutrient uptake, Ion homeostasis, Plant membrane transport, Abiotic stress, Climate change


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 January 2021 Manuscript
31 March 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 January 2021 Manuscript
31 March 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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