High nitrogen (N) fertilization for maximizing crop yield commonly leads to postponed flowering time (heading date in rice) and ripening, thus affecting resources use efficiency and followed planting time. We found that N-mediated heading date-1 (Nhd1) can directly activate florigen gene OsHd3a in rice. Inactivation of either Nhd1 or OsHd3a results in delay and insensitivity to N supply of flowering time. Knockout of Nhd1 increases N uptake and utilization efficiency at low-to-moderate N level under both short- and long-day field conditions. Increasing glutamine, the product of N assimilation, can upregulate expression of Nhd1, which in turn downregulates OsFd-GOGAT expression and OsFd-GOGAT activity, displaying a Nhd1-controlled negative feedback regulatory pathway of N assimilation. Moreover, N fertilization effect on rice flowering time shows genetically controlled diversity, and single-nucleotide polymorphism in Nhd1 promoter may relate to different responses of flowering time to N application. Nhd1 thus balances flowering time and N use efficiency in addition to photoperiod in rice.
Keywords: florigen; flowering time; heading date; nitrogen fertilization; nitrogen use efficiency; photoperiod; rice; single-nucleotide polymorphism.
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