To achieve higher crop yields in rice a balance between nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) is decisive.
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A team of Chinese and German researchers reveals a mechanism by which nitrate in the soil activates both phosphate and nitrate utilisation in rice.

In the future, a newly discovered mechanism in plant growth could help to achieve higher harvests in a sustainable way. Scientists from Beijing (China) discovered this mechanism in their research on Asian rice in collaboration with Professor Dr Stanislav Kopriva from the University of Cologne’s Botanical Institute and the Cluster of Excellence CEPLAS, Germany. The balance between nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) is decisive for crop yield. Both nutrients, which the plant absorbs from the soil through its roots, interact more strongly with each other than previously known.

The study entitled ‘Nitrate-NRT1.1B-SPX4 cascade integrates nitrogen and phosphorus signalling networks in plants’ has now appeared in the journal ‘Nature Plants’.

Kopriva explains: "For healthy and optimal growth, all living beings need a good balance of minerals. However, unlike in the case of humans, we know very little about how plants achieve this balance." Kopriva’s colleagues in Beijing had observed that the addition of phosphate only had a positive effect on plant growth and yield if a sufficient amount of nitrogen was also available in the soil.

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