The Use of Mutants Lacking Glutamine Synthetase and Glutamate Synthase to Study their Role in Plant Nitrogen Metabolism

  • Peter J. Lea
  • Ray D. Blackwell
  • Alan J. S. Murray
  • Knenneth W. Joy
Part of the Recent Advances in Phytochemistry book series (RAPT, volume 23)


It is now generally accepted that at least 90% of the ammonia in higher plants is assimilated via the glutamate synthase cycle as outlined in Figure 1.1,2 Following the incorporation of ammonia into glutamine by the enzyme glutamine synthetase (GS), the nitrogen can be transferred to a wide range of different compounds. Nitrate or ammonia taken up through the roots is eventually assimilated through the glutamate synthase pathway. In C3 plants during photorespiration, ammonia released in the mitochondrion from the conversion of glycine to serine is recycled into the chloroplast for reassimilation (Fig. 2).3 Estimates of the flux through the photorespiratory pathway are varied and values ranging from 15 to 75% of the rate of carbon assimilation have been obtained.4 More recent evidence suggests that the photorespiration rate is closer to 40% of the rate of net CO2 fixation5,6 (see later section). On the other hand, the rate of primary nitrogen assimilation in barley can be as low as 3.0 mol gFW-1 h-1 or approximately 1% of the net rate of CO2 fixation.7 The amount of NH3 derived from photorespiration within C3 plant leaves is, therefore, quantitatively the major flux of nitrogen within plant metabolism.


Glutamine Synthetase Glutamine Synthetase Activity Ammonia Assimilation Glycine Decarboxylase Glyoxylate Aminotransferase 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Lea
    • 1
  • Ray D. Blackwell
    • 1
  • Alan J. S. Murray
    • 2
  • Knenneth W. Joy
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of LancasterLancasterUK
  2. 2.William Grants and Sons LtdThe Girvan DistilleryGirvan, AyrshireUK
  3. 3.Department of BiologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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