A collaborative research group has discovered the protein that inhibits the formation of organic nitrogen compounds in plants. This protein, if manipulated, could potentially be used to encourage plant growth, improving biomass production and crop harvests.
Nitrogen is one of the building blocks of life. Humans need nitrogen to make the amino acids, proteins, and nucleic acids essential for growth, hormones, brain functions, the immune system, and DNA and RNA. Humans, unlike plants, cannot synthesize organic nitrogen molecules. Instead, we rely on plants for our nitrogen intake.
Plants utilise nitrate or ammonium in the environment to synthesize organic nitrogen molecules in a process called nitrogen assimilation. Crop production relies on nitrogen fertilizers to improve the efficiency of nitrogen uptake in crops. Still, the regulatory mechanisms behind nitrogen assimilation have continued to elude scientists.
Multiple proteins mediate nitrogen assimilation. The expression of these proteins is high when the surrounding soil and water contains low amounts of ammonium and nitrate ions, suggesting the existence of a negative regulator dependent on these factors.
Read the complete research at www.tohoku.ac.jp.