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Plants 2016, 5(4), 39; doi:10.3390/plants5040039

Understanding Plant Nitrogen Metabolism through Metabolomics and Computational Approaches

1
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, 85 Avenue NW, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada
2
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Maurizio Chiurazzi
Received: 8 August 2016 / Revised: 21 September 2016 / Accepted: 30 September 2016 / Published: 10 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Nitrogen Metabolism)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1421 KB, uploaded 10 October 2016]   |  

Abstract

A comprehensive understanding of plant metabolism could provide a direct mechanism for improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in crops. One of the major barriers to achieving this outcome is our poor understanding of the complex metabolic networks, physiological factors, and signaling mechanisms that affect NUE in agricultural settings. However, an exciting collection of computational and experimental approaches has begun to elucidate whole-plant nitrogen usage and provides an avenue for connecting nitrogen-related phenotypes to genes. Herein, we describe how metabolomics, computational models of metabolism, and flux balance analysis have been harnessed to advance our understanding of plant nitrogen metabolism. We introduce a model describing the complex flow of nitrogen through crops in a real-world agricultural setting and describe how experimental metabolomics data, such as isotope labeling rates and analyses of nutrient uptake, can be used to refine these models. In summary, the metabolomics/computational approach offers an exciting mechanism for understanding NUE that may ultimately lead to more effective crop management and engineered plants with higher yields. View Full-Text
Keywords: metabolomics; nitrogen; nitrogen use efficiency (NUE); transgenic crops; nitrogen uptake efficiency (NUpE); nitrogen utilization efficiency (NUtE); flux balance analysis (FBA); N boundary; mass spectrometry (MS); nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) metabolomics; nitrogen; nitrogen use efficiency (NUE); transgenic crops; nitrogen uptake efficiency (NUpE); nitrogen utilization efficiency (NUtE); flux balance analysis (FBA); N boundary; mass spectrometry (MS); nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Beatty, P.H.; Klein, M.S.; Fischer, J.J.; Lewis, I.A.; Muench, D.G.; Good, A.G. Understanding Plant Nitrogen Metabolism through Metabolomics and Computational Approaches. Plants 2016, 5, 39.

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