Nitric oxide is a gaseous secondary messenger that is critical for proper cell signaling and plant survival when exposed to stress. Nitric oxide (NO) synthesis in plants, under standard phototrophic oxygenic conditions, has long been a very controversial issue. A few algal strains contain NO synthase (NOS), which appears to be absent in all other algae and land plants. The experimental data have led to the hypothesis that molybdoenzyme nitrate reductase (NR) is the main enzyme responsible for NO production in most plants. Recently, NR was found to be a necessary partner in a dual system that also includes another molybdoenzyme, which was renamed NO-forming nitrite reductase (NOFNiR). This enzyme produces NO independently of the molybdenum center of NR and depends on the NR electron transport chain from NAD(P)H to heme. Under the circumstances in which NR is not present or active, the existence of another NO-forming system that is similar to the NOS system would account for NO production and NO effects. PII protein, which senses and integrates the signals of the C–N balance in the cell, likely has an important role in organizing cell responses. Here, we critically analyze these topics.
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