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  Section: Plant Nutrition » Macronutrients » Magnesium
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Function in Plants

Historical Information
  Determination of Essentiality
Function in Plants
  Metabolic Processes
  Fruit Yield and Quality
Diagnosis of Magnesium Status in Plants
  Symptoms of Deficiency and Excess
    - Symptoms of Deficiency
    - Symptoms of Excess
  Environmental Causes of Deficiency Symptoms
  Nutrient Imbalances and Symptoms of Deficiency
    - Potassium and Magnesium
    - Calcium and Magnesium
    - Nitrogen and Magnesium
    - Sodium and Magnesium
    - Iron and Magnesium
    - Manganese and Magnesium
    - Zinc and Magnesium
    - Phosphorus and Magnesium
    - Copper and Magnesium
    - Chloride and Magnesium
    - Aluminum and Magnesium
  Phenotypic Differences in Accumulation
  Genotypic Differences in Accumulation
Concentrations of Magnesium in Plants
  Magnesium Constituents
    - Distribution in Plants
    - Seasonal Variations
    - Physiological Aspects of Magnesium Allocation
  Critical Concentrations
    - Tissue Magnesium Concentration Associations with Crop Yields
    - Tabulated Data of Concentrations by Crops
Assessment of Magnesium in Soils
  Forms of Magnesium in Soils
  Sodium Absorption Ratio
  Soil Tests
  Tabulated Data on Magnesium Contents in Soils
    - Soil Types
Fertilizers for Magnesium
  Kinds of Fertilizers
  Effects of Fertilizers on Plant Growth
  Application of Fertilizers
Metabolic Processes
Magnesium has major physiological and molecular roles in plants, such as being a component of the chlorophyll molecule, a cofactor for many enzymatic processes associated with phosphorylation, dephosphorylation, and the hydrolysis of various compounds, and as a structural stabilizer for various nucleotides. Studies indicate that 15 to 30% of the total magnesium in plants is associated with the chlorophyll molecule (26,27). In citrus (Citrus volkameriana Ten. & Pasq.), magnesium deficiency was associated directly with lower total leaf chlorophyll (28); however, there were no effects on chlorophyll a/b ratios within the magnesium-deficient leaves.

The other 70 to 85% of the magnesium in plants is associated with the role of magnesium as a cofactor in various enzymatic processes (1,2,26,29), the regulation of membrane channels and receptor proteins (30,31), and the structural role in stabilizing proteins and the configurations of DNA and RNA strands (32,33). Since magnesium is an integral component of the chlorophyll molecule and the enzymatic processes associated with photosynthesis and respiration, the assimilation of carbon and energy transformations will be affected directly by inadequate magnesium. In nutrient film-grown potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), relatively low (0.05 mM) or high (4.0 mM) magnesium concentrations increased dark respiration rates and decreased photosynthetic rates relative to magnesium fertilization rates ranging from 0.25 to 1.0 mM (34). In hydroponically grown sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), photosynthetic rates decreased in ammonium-fertilized, but not nitrate-fertilized plants when the magnesium concentration of nutrient solutions decreased below 2 mM (35). This effect was related to the decreased enzymatic activity as well as the decrease in photosynthetic capacity due to the loss in assimilating leaf area, occurring mainly as a consequence of leaf necrosis and defoliation (36).

Magnesium may also influence various physiological aspects related to leaf water relations (37,38). In hydroponically grown tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), increasing magnesium fertilization from 0.5 to 10 mM resulted in an increase in leaf stomatal conductance (Gs) and turgor potential (ψp) and a decrease in osmotic potential (ψΠ) but had no effect on leaf water potential (ψw) (37). In other studies (38) where low leaf water potentials were induced in sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) leaves, the increased magnesium concentrations in the stroma, caused by decreased stroma volume due to dehydration, caused magnesium to bind to the chloroplast-coupling factor, thereby inhibiting the ATPase activity of the enzyme and inhibiting photophosphorylation. Other experiments (39–41) have indicated that even though up to 1.2 mM magnesium may be required in the ATPase complex of photophosphorylation, magnesium concentrations of 5 mM or higher result in conformational changes in the chloroplast-coupling factor, which causes inhibition of the ATPase enzyme.

As regards to the role of magnesium in molecular biology, magnesium is an integral component of RNA, stabilizing the conformational structure of the negatively charged functional groups and also concurrently neutralizing the RNA molecule (42–44). In many cases, the role of the magnesium ion in the configurations and stabilities of many polynucleotides is not replaceable with other cations, since the ligand configurations are of a specific geometry that are capable of housing only magnesium ions (45). In addition, magnesium serves as a cofactor for enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis and formation of phosphodiester bonds associated with the transcription, translation, and replication of nucleic acids (1,2).

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