Nitrogen (N) is an essential macronutrient for plants and a major limiting factor for plant growth and crop production. Nitrate is the main source of N available to plants in agricultural soils and in many natural environments. Sustaining agricultural productivity is of paramount importance in the current scenario of increasing world population, diversification of crop uses, and climate change. Plant productivity for major crops around the world, however, is still supported by excess application of N-rich fertilizers with detrimental economic and environmental impacts. Thus, understanding how plants regulate nitrate uptake and metabolism is key for developing new crops with enhanced N use efficiency and to cope with future world food demands. The study of plant responses to nitrate has gained considerable interest over the last 30 years. This review provides an overview of key findings in nitrate research, spanning biochemistry, molecular genetics, genomics, and systems biology. We discuss how we have reached our current view of nitrate transport, local and systemic nitrate sensing/signaling, and the regulatory networks underlying nitrate-controlled outputs in plants. We hope this summary will serve not only as a timeline and information repository but also as a baseline to define outstanding questions for future research.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science