Metal Toxicity and Nitrogen Metabolism in Plants: An Overview

  • Saddam Hussain
  • Abdul Khaliq
  • Mehmood Ali Noor
  • Mohsin Tanveer
  • Hafiz Athar Hussain
  • Sadam Hussain
  • Tariq Shah
  • Tariq Mehmood


Heavy metal pollution has emerged as a severe threat to the environment as well as global food security. Exposure of plants to the heavy metals could cause perturbations in various physiological, biochemical, and metabolic processes including nitrogen (N) uptake and assimilation. Here, we discussed the effects of metal toxicity on N uptake, N forms, mechanism of metal toxicity, and nitrogen assimilation in plants. We provided a detailed description on the behavior of various enzymes including nitrate reductase (NR), nitrite reductase (NiR), glutamine synthetase (GS), glutamate synthase (GOGAT), and glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) under metal toxicity. We highlighted the response of various nitrogenous compounds and their special role under metal toxicity. In addition, we discussed the effects of excess metals on N fixation in plants and provided the guidelines for further studies.


Amino acids Ammonium Heavy metals Nitrogen fixation Nitrogen metabolism 











Glycine betaine


Glutamate dehydrogenase






Glutamate synthase


Glutamine synthetase
















Nitrite reductase




Nitrate reductase




Reactive oxygen species








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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saddam Hussain
    • 1
  • Abdul Khaliq
    • 1
  • Mehmood Ali Noor
    • 2
  • Mohsin Tanveer
    • 3
  • Hafiz Athar Hussain
    • 4
  • Sadam Hussain
    • 1
  • Tariq Shah
    • 5
  • Tariq Mehmood
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of AgronomyUniversity of AgricultureFaisalabadPakistan
  2. 2.Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Key Laboratory of Crop Physiology and Ecology, Ministry of AgricultureBeijingChina
  3. 3.Tasmania Institute of AgricultureUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  4. 4.Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in AgricultureChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.Oil Crops Research InstituteChinese Academy of Agriculture ScienceWuhanChina
  6. 6.Institute of Cotton ResearchChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingChina

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