Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 30, pp 23471–23487 | Cite as

Nitrogen nutrition in cotton and control strategies for greenhouse gas emissions: a review

  • Aziz Khan
  • Daniel Kean Yuen Tan
  • Fazal Munsif
  • Muhammad Zahir Afridi
  • Farooq Shah
  • Fan Wei
  • Shah Fahad
  • Ruiyang Zhou
Review Article


Cotton (Gossypium hirustum L.) is grown globally as a major source of natural fiber. Nitrogen (N) management is cumbersome in cotton production systems; it has more impacts on yield, maturity, and lint quality of a cotton crop than other primary plant nutrient. Application and production of N fertilizers consume large amounts of energy, and excess application can cause environmental concerns, i.e., nitrate in ground water, and the production of nitrous oxide a highly potent greenhouse gas (GHG) to the atmosphere, which is a global concern. Therefore, improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of cotton plant is critical in this context. Slow-release fertilizers (e.g., polymer-coated urea) have the potential to increase cotton yield and reduce environmental pollution due to more efficient use of nutrients. Limited literature is available on the mitigation of GHG emissions for cotton production. Therefore, this review focuses on the role of N fertilization, in cotton growth and GHG emission management strategies, and will assess, justify, and organize the researchable priorities. Nitrate and ammonium nitrogen are essential nutrients for successful crop production. Ammonia (NH3) is a central intermediate in plant N metabolism. NH3 is assimilated in cotton by the mediation of glutamine synthetase, glutamine (z-) oxoglutarate amino-transferase enzyme systems in two steps: the first step requires adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to add NH3 to glutamate to form glutamine (Gln), and the second step transfers the NH3 from glutamine (Gln) to α-ketoglutarate to form two glutamates. Once NH3 has been incorporated into glutamate, it can be transferred to other carbon skeletons by various transaminases to form additional amino acids. The glutamate and glutamine formed can rapidly be used for the synthesis of low-molecular-weight organic N compounds (LMWONCs) such as amides, amino acids, ureides, amines, and peptides that are further synthesized into high-molecular-weight organic N compounds (HMWONCs) such as proteins and nucleic acids.


Nitrogen Cotton Greenhouse gas emissions Control strategies Nitrogen translocation NUE 



We are thankful to the National Natural Science Foundation of China (311716600–31360248).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aziz Khan
    • 1
  • Daniel Kean Yuen Tan
    • 2
  • Fazal Munsif
    • 3
  • Muhammad Zahir Afridi
    • 3
  • Farooq Shah
    • 4
  • Fan Wei
    • 1
  • Shah Fahad
    • 5
    • 6
  • Ruiyang Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Plant Genetic and Breeding, College of AgricultureGuangxi UniversityNanningPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Plant Breeding Institute, Sydney Institute of Agriculture, School of Life and Environmental Faculty of ScienceThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Crop Production SciencesThe University of AgriculturePeshawarPakistan
  4. 4.Department of Agriculture, Garden CampusAbdul Wali Khan University MardanMardanPakistan
  5. 5.College of Plant Science and TechnologyHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  6. 6.Department of AgricultureUniversity of SwabiSwabiPakistan

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