The intersection of nitrogen nutrition and water use in plants: New paths toward improved crop productivity

Darren C. Plett, K Ranathunge, Vanessa J Melino, Noriyuki Kuya, Yosaku Uga, Herbert J Kronzucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Water and nitrogen availability limit crop productivity globally more than most other environmental factors. Plant availability of macronutrients such as nitrate is, to a large extent, regulated by the amount of water available in the soil, and, during drought episodes, crops can become simultaneously water- and nitrogen-limited. In this review, we explore the intricate relationship between water and nitrogen transport in plants, from transpiration-driven mass flow in the soil to uptake by roots via membrane transporters and channels and transport to aerial organs. The role of root architecture and of suberised hydrophobic root barriers governing apoplastic water and nitrogen movement into the vascular system are discussed. We point to the need of identifying the signalling cascades regulating water and nitrogen transport, and the need for targeted physiological analyses of plant traits influencing water and nitrogen uptake. We further advocate for incorporation of new phenotyping technologies, breeding strategies, and agronomic practices to improve crop yield in water- and nitrogen-limited production systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4452-4468
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number15
Early online date6 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2020


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