The function of high-affinity urea transporters in nitrogen-deficient conditions

Marcel P. Beier, Soichi Kojima

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Urea is the most used nitrogenous fertilizer worldwide and an important nitrogen-containing plant metabolite. Despite its major use as fertilizer, its direct uptake is limited due to the ubiquitous presence of bacterial urease, which leads to the formation of ammonium. In this review, we will focus mainly on the more recent research about the high-affinity urea transporter function in nitrogen-deficient conditions. The effective use of nitrogenous compounds is essential for plants to be able to deal with nitrogen-deficient conditions. Leaf senescence, either induced by development and/or by nitrogen deficiency, plays an important role in the efficient use of already assimilated nitrogen. Proteinaceous nitrogen is set free through catabolic reactions: the released amino acids from protein catabilization are in turn catabolized leading to an accumulation of ammonium and urea. The concentration and conversion to transportable forms of nitrogen, e.g. amino acids like glutamine and asparagine, are coordinated around the vascular tissue. Urea itself can be translocated directly over the phloem by a mechanism that involves DUR3, or it is converted by urease to ammonium and assimilated again into amino acids. The details of the high-affinity transporter function in this physiological context and the implications for crop yield are explained.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)802-808
    Number of pages7
    JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physiology
    • Genetics
    • Plant Science
    • Cell Biology


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