Tease out the future: How tea research might enable crop breeding for acid soil tolerance.
Ding ZJ., Shi YZ., Li GX., Harberd NP., Zheng SJ.
Unlike most crops, in which soil acidity severely limits productivity, tea (Camellia sinensis) actually prefers acid soils (pH 4.0-5.5). Specifically, tea is very tolerant of acidity-promoted aluminum (Al) toxicity, a major factor that limits the yield of most other crops, and it even requires Al for optimum growth. Understanding tea Al tolerance and Al-stimulatory mechanisms could therefore be fundamental for the future development of crops adapted to acid soils. Here, we summarize the Al-tolerance mechanisms of tea plants, propose possible mechanistic explanations for the stimulation of tea growth by Al based on recent research, and put forward ideas for future crop breeding for acid soils.