Nitrogen (N) is a core component of fertilizers used in modern agriculture to increase yields and thus to help feed a growing global population. However, this comes at a cost to the environment, through run-off of excess N as a result of poor N-use efficiency (NUE) by crops. An obvious remedy to this problem would therefore be the improvement of NUE, which requires advancing our understanding on N homeostasis, sensing, and uptake. Proteolytic pathways are linked to N homeostasis as they recycle proteins that contain N and carbon; however, emerging data suggest that their functions extend beyond this simple recycling. Here, we highlight roles of proteolytic pathways in non-symbiotic and symbiotic N uptake and in systemic N sensing. We also offer a novel view in which we suggest that proteolytic pathways have roles in N homeostasis that differ from their accepted function in recycling.
Keywords: Autophagy; neddylation; nitrogen; proteases; proteasome; sumoylation.
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