Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 1998

Sucrose-feeding leads to increased rates of nitrate assimilation, increased rates of alpha-oxoglutarate synthesis, and increased synthesis of a wide spectrum of amino acids in tobacco leaves

Morcuende, Rosa; Krapp, Anne; Hurry, Vaughan; Stitt, Mark


To investigate the importance of the sugar supply for the regulation of nitrogen and organic acid metabolism, various sugars and nitrogenous compounds were supplied for 8 h to detached tobacco leaves in low light. (i) In control leaves supplied with water, there was a large decrease of the Nia transcript level, a 50% decline of nitrate reductase (NR) activity, starch increased and sugars remained low, nitrate decreased by 50%, and amino acids increased only slightly during the 8 h incubation. About half of the nitrogen accumulating in amino acids was present in glutamine (Gln). (ii) When 25 mM sucrose was supplied, the in-vivo rate of nitrate assimilation (estimated from the accumulation of ammonium and amino acids) increased 2-fold. The Nia transcript level still decreased, but the decline of NR activity was less pronounced and NR activation was increased. The in-vivo net rate of ammonium assimilation (estimated from the accumulation of amino acids) also doubled after feeding sucrose. Ammonium and glutamate (Glu) decreased and Gln rose markedly, showing that in-vivo activity of glutamine synthetase had been stimulated. Glutamine still accounted for about half of the nitrogen, indicating that sucrose does not selectively stimulate glutamine synthase. Glutamate and aspartate decreased and all the minor amino acids increased, showing that the amino acid biosynthesis pathways are activated by sucrose. There was a decrease of 3-phosphoglycerate (3PGA) and phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) and a large increase of alpha-oxoglutarate, showing that the flow of carbon from glycolysis into organic acids has been stimulated by sucrose. (iii) The changes of 3PGA, PEP, alpha-oxoglutarate, Glu, aspartate and the minor amino acids were smaller when 50 mM glucose was supplied, even though the internal levels of sugars at the end of the incubation resembled those found after feeding 25 mM sucrose. This indicates that the signals that regulate nitrogen and respiratory metabolism are derived from the uptake or metabolism of sucrose, rather than glucose. (iv) A different spectrum of changes was found when 20 mM nitrate was supplied. The estimated rate of nitrate assimilation increased 2-fold, and this was accompanied by an increase of NR activity but not of NR activation. Nitrate-feeding did not lead to a decrease of Glu, and the increase of minor amino acids was slightly smaller than with sucrose. There was a decrease of sugars, starch, and hexose phosphates, but 3PGA and PEP were not significantly decreased and isocitrate increased instead of alpha-oxoglutarate. (v) A different spectrum of changes was also found when 10 mM Gln was supplied.The estimated rate of nitrate assimilation decreased, and this was accompanied by a decrease of NR activity and NR activation. Glutamate did not decrease, and the increase of minor amino acids was smaller than with sucrose. Starch and sugars remained high and, although hexose phosphates decreased, 3PGA and PEP were not significantly decreased. Isocitrate remained unaltered and the increase of alpha-oxoglutarate was smaller than after supplying sucrose. (vi) When 25 mM sucrose was added together with 20 mM nitrate or 10 mM Gin, the effect on NR activity, NR activation and the estimated rate of nitrate assimilation was additive to the effect of nitrate, and antagonistic to the effect of Gln. Sucrose still led to a decrease of Glu, an increase of the minor amino acids, a decrease of 3PGA and PEP, and an increase of alpha-oxoglutarate when it was supplied together with nitrate or Gln. (vii) It is concluded that sucrose initiates a co-ordinate activation of nitrate assimilation, ammonium assimilation, amino acid biosysthesis, and alpha-oxoglutarate synthesis. Sucrose acts in concert with nitrate and antagonistically to Gln to increase NR activity and nitrate assimilation, and complements the action of nitrate and Gin to increase the flow of nitrogen from ammonium into amino acids, and to increase alpha-oxoglutarate formation.


amino acid Nicotiana (sugar-feeding) nitrate; nitrate reductase; photosynthesis; sugar-feeding

Published in

1998, Volume: 206, number: 3, pages: 394-409
Publisher: SPRINGER

    UKÄ Subject classification


    Publication Identifiers


    Permanent link to this page (URI)