Transport and use of bicarbonate in plants: Current knowledge and challenges ahead

Charlotte Poschenrieder, José Antonio Fernández, Lourdes Rubio, Joana Terés, Juan Barceló, Laura Perez Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Bicarbonate plays a fundamental role in the cell pH status in all organisms. In autotrophs, HCO3− may further contribute to carbon concentration mechanisms (CCM). This is especially relevant in the CO2-poor habitats of cyanobacteria, aquatic microalgae, and macrophytes. Photosynthesis of terrestrial plants can also benefit from CCM as evidenced by the evolution of C4 and Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM). The presence of HCO3− in all organisms leads to more questions regarding the mechanisms of uptake and membrane transport in these different biological systems. This review aims to provide an overview of the transport and metabolic processes related to HCO3− in microalgae, macroalgae, seagrasses, and terrestrial plants. HCO3− transport in cyanobacteria and human cells is much better documented and is included for comparison. We further comment on the metabolic roles of HCO3− in plants by focusing on the diversity and functions of carbonic anhydrases and PEP carboxylases as well as on the signaling role of CO2/HCO3− in stomatal guard cells. Plant responses to excess soil HCO3− is briefly addressed. In conclusion, there are still considerable gaps in our knowledge of HCO3− uptake and transport in plants that hamper the development of breeding strategies for both more efficient CCM and better HCO3− tolerance in crop plants.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1352
Pages (from-to)1-25
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2018


  • Algae
  • Bicarbonate
  • Carbon concentration mechanisms
  • Carbonic anhydrase
  • Carboxylases
  • Higher land plants
  • Limestone soil
  • Metabolism
  • Seagrass
  • Transporter


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