Nitrogen and carbon are two of the most important elements in plants and need to be kept in balance to maximize plant growth. An understanding of how plants achieve balance between carbon and nitrogen content, and how plants cope with nitrogen deficiency, represent important questions in the field of plant biology, with implications for improving crop productivity. Distinguished Research Fellow Dr. Yi-Fang Tsay and Post-Doc Fellow Dr. Yi-Chen Lin at the Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica, show that photorespiration was upregulated in response to nitrogen depletion to trigger amino acid remodeling. Their study reveals that NPF8.4 is a transporter responsible for sequestering the photorespiratory carbon intermediate glycerate into vacuoles during nitrogen depletion, which reduces carbon assimilation and thus helps to maintain a balanced carbon-nitrogen ratio. This study elucidates a novel function of photorespiration in nitrogen flux and has been published in Nature Plants.

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Is photorespiration a futile process in C flux? Study of the vacuole glycerate transporter NPF8.4 reveals a novel role of photorespiration in nitrogen flux