It has been noticed that usage of nitrogen fertilizers results in a delay in flowering, thus upping the chances of exposure of crops cold weather in the end of the harvesting season. This can damage grain filling. However, scientists may have the solution for it since in a recent study of rice, which is a staple food for all of us, they uncovered a nitrate transporter (NRT) which could help in early flowering. Their findings have been published in The Plant Cell.

Process Uses NRTs

Various NRTs transport nitrogen from the soil to the roots and also along the entire length of the plant. In fact, some NRTs can gauge the level of nitrogen and respond accordingly. The study revealed that rice OsNRT1.1A is capable of affecting flowering time as well as nitrogen use. Lines which are mutant and do not have NRTs revealed lesser uptake of ammonium and nitrate.

The mutants also revealed lesser induction of genes compared to the absorption of ammonium and nitrate. This meant that the OsNRT1.1A functions both as a nitrogen sensor and transporter in plants. The mutants resulted in 80.0% lesser grain compared by regular rice. They also flowered later.

The authors created rice lines that result in additional OsNRT1.1A. This was done to see if the time to flowering and yield improved. And it did. Plants grew taller and greener and had more biomass. The plants also absorbed nitrate and ammonium from the medium in the hydroponics experiments.