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Mol Plant. 2010 Nov;3(6):973-96. doi: 10.1093/mp/ssq049. Epub 2010 Oct 6.

Metabolic and signaling aspects underpinning the regulation of plant carbon nitrogen interactions.

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Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology, Am M├╝hlenberg 1, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany.


In addition to light and water, CO(2) and mineral elements are required for plant growth and development. Among these factors, nitrogen is critical, since it is needed to synthesize amino acids, which are the building elements of protein, nucleotides, chlorophyll, and numerous other metabolites and cellular components. Therefore, nitrogen is required by plants in higher quantities and this investment in nitrogen supports the use of CO(2), water, and inorganic nitrogen to produce sugars, organic acids, and amino acids, the basic building blocks of biomass accumulation. This system is maintained by complex metabolic machinery, which is regulated at different levels according to environmental factors such as light, CO(2), and nutrient availability. Plants integrate these signals via a signaling network, which involves metabolites as well as nutrient-sensing proteins. Due to its importance, much research effort has been expended to understand how carbon and nitrogen metabolism are integrated and regulated according to the rates of photosynthesis, photorespiration, and respiration. Thus, in this article, we both discuss recent advances in carbon/nitrogen metabolisms as well as sensing and signaling systems in illuminated leaves of C3-plants and provide a perspective of the type of experiments that are now required in order to take our understanding to a higher level.

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