, Volume 83, Issue 2, pp 265-278

Molecular aspects of nitrogen mobilization and recycling in trees

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Plants have developed a variety of molecular strategies to use limiting nutrients with a maximum efficiency. N assimilated into biomolecules can be released in the form of ammonium by plant metabolic activities in various physiological processes such as photorespiration, the biosynthesis of phenylpropanoids or the mobilization of stored reserves. Thus, efficient reassimilation mechanisms are required to reincorporate liberated ammonium into metabolism and maintain N plant economy. Although the biochemistry and molecular biology of ammonium recycling in annual herbaceous plants has been previously reported, the recent advances in woody plants need to be reviewed. Moreover, it is important to point out that N recycling is quantitatively massive during some of these metabolic processes in trees, including seed germination, the onset of dormancy and resumption of active growth or the biosynthesis of lignin that takes place during wood formation. Therefore, woody plants constitute an excellent system as a model to study N mobilization and recycling. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of different physiological processes in woody perennials that challenge the overall plant N economy by releasing important amounts of inorganic N in the form of ammonium.