Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 195–204 | Cite as

Integrative response of plant mitochondrial electron transport chain to nitrogen source

  • Takushi HachiyaEmail author
  • Ko Noguchi


Nitrogen (N) availability is widely known as a determinant of plant growth and respiration rate. However, less attention has been paid to the effect of the type of N source (nitrate, nitrite or ammonium) on the respiratory system. This review summarizes the latest findings on this topic, with an emphasis on the effect of ammonium and nitric oxide (NO) on the respiratory system, and the physiological role of alternative oxidase (AOX). First, concentrated ammonium has been found to increase plant respiration rate (ammonium-dependent respiratory increase, ARI). We will introduce two hypotheses to explain ARI, futile ammonium cycling and excess reducing equivalents, and verify the validity of each hypothesis. We suggest that these two hypotheses are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Second, gene expression of AOX is suppressed when N is predominately available as nitrate instead of ammonium. We will discuss possible signaling pathways leading to this expression pattern. Third, while AOX expression is induced by NO, AOX activity itself is insensitive to NO. In contrast, activity of cytochrome c oxidase (COX) is sensitive to NO. We outline the NO production pathway, focusing on nitrite-dependent NO production, and discuss the physiological significance of the fact that AOX activity is insensitive to NO. Finally, this review aims to build an integrated scheme of the respiratory response to the type of N source, considering leaves in high light conditions or hypoxic roots.


Alternative oxidase (AOX) Ammonium Nitrate signaling Nitric oxide (NO) 



We are grateful to Prof. David C. Logan and Dr. D. Tholen for the critical reading of this manuscript. We also thank laboratory members for advice and encouragement. This work is dedicated to Mikiko Hachiya.


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© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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