NO generated by nitrate reductase plays a pivotal role in improving N-use efficiency by increasing lateral root initiation and inorganic N uptake, representing a strategy for rice to adapt to fluctuating nitrate supply.
Increasing evidence shows that partial nitrate nutrition (PNN) can be attributed to improved plant growth and nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE) in rice. Nitric oxide (NO) is a signalling molecule involved in many physiological processes during plant development and nitrogen (N) assimilation. It remains unclear whether molecular NO improves NUE through PNN. Two rice cultivars (cvs Nanguang and Elio), with high and low NUE, respectively, were used in the analysis of NO production, nitrate reductase (NR) activity, lateral root (LR) density, and 15N uptake under PNN, with or without NO production donor and inhibitors. PNN increased NO accumulation in cv. Nanguang possibly through the NIA2-dependent NR pathway. PNN-mediated NO increases contributed to LR initiation, 15NH 4 +/ 15NO 3 – influx into the root, and levels of ammonium and nitrate transporters in cv. Nanguang but not cv. Elio. Further results revealed marked and specific induction of LR initiation and 15NH 4 +/ 15NO 3 – influx into the roots of plants supplied with NH 4 ++sodium nitroprusside (SNP) relative to those supplied with NH 4 + alone, and considerable inhibition upon the application of cPTIO or tungstate (NR inhibitor) in addition to PNN, which is in agreement with the change in NO fluorescence in the two rice cultivars. The findings suggest that NO generated by the NR pathway plays a pivotal role in improving the N acquisition capacity by increasing LR initiation and the inorganic N uptake rate, which may represent a strategy for rice plants to adapt to a fluctuating nitrate supply and increase NUE.