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J Exp Bot. 2019 May 24. pii: erz250. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erz250. [Epub ahead of print]

Integration of sulfate assimilation with carbon and nitrogen metabolism in transition from C3 to C4 photosynthesis.

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Botanical Institute and Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences (CEPLAS), University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, Ardabil, Iran.


The first product of sulfate assimilation in plants, cysteine, is a proteinogenic amino acid and a source of reduced sulfur for plant metabolism. Cysteine synthesis is the converging point of the three major pathways of primary metabolism: carbon, nitrate, and sulfate assimilation. Despite the importance of metabolic and genetic coordination of these three pathways for nutrient balance in plants, the molecular mechanisms underlying this coordination, sensors and signals, are far from being understood. This is even more apparent in C4 plants, where coordination of these pathways for cysteine synthesis includes the additional challenge of differential spatial localization. Here we review the coordination of sulfate, nitrate, and carbon assimilation and show how they are altered in C4 plants. We then address the current knowledge of mechanisms for coordination of these pathways. Finally, we identify urgent questions to be addressed in order to understand the integration of sulfate assimilation with carbon and nitrogen metabolism particularly in C4 plants. We consider answering these questions to be a pre-requisite for successful engineering of C4 photosynthesis into C3 crops to increase their efficiency.


Flaveria ; C4 photosynthesis; Sulfate assimilation; cysteine; evolution; primary metabolism


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