Discovery of a new strategy to improve Nitrogen use efficiency in crops

Nitrogen (N) is an essential macronutrient and its availability in the soil is a crucial factor for the growth, distribution and productivity of crops. In the present work, we explore the role of CDF3 in N nutrition in Arabidopsis and tomato.


During the last decades, the application of nitrogen fertilizers (N) has been used to improve the yield of crops. However, plants only use a small proportion of them which leads to very negative impacts on the environment and human health.

NUE (Nitrogen Use Efficiency) is a very complex trait that depends on multiple aspects such as the uptake, translocation, assimilation and remobilization of N, and therefore it is controled by multiple genetic and environmental factors. Most of the crops have been selected from wild species (domestication), essentially attending to characteristics such as size and quality of fruit / seed, plant structure, etc., but without considering efficiency in the use of nutrients. Thus, it is urgent a new evolution (new green revolution) in crop breeding programs to develop new varities more efficient and respectful with the environment.

Our results provide new data on how plants respond to N limitation. Furthermore, a group of regulatory factors that have a central role in controlling the expression of genes involved in nitrogen and carbon assimilation and the balance N/C in tomato has been identified. These genes have provided of new tools and strategies to improve the NUE and productivity.

Análisis comparativo de la respuesta a limitación de N de plantas de
tomate que expresan CDF3 (b) Modelo que describe las funciones de
CDF3 en relación al metabolismo de N y C.

Original Paper:

Domínguez-Figueroa, J., Carrillo, L., Renau-Morata, B., Yang, L., Molina, R.-V., Marino, D., Canales, J., Weih, M., Vicente-Carbajosa, J., Nebauer, S.G., Medina, J. 2020. The Arabidopsis Transcription Factor CDF3 Is Involved in Nitrogen Responses and Improves Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Tomato. Frontiers in Plant Science 11, 1825. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2020.601558