The role of nitrite and nitric oxide under low oxygen conditions in plants

Kapuganti Jagadis Gupta, Luis A. J. Mur, Aakanksha Wany, Aprajita Kumari, Alisdair R. Fernie, R. George Ratcliffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (SciVal)
242 Downloads (Pure)


Plant tissues, particularly roots, can be subjected to periods of hypoxia due to environmental circumstances. Plants have developed various adaptations in response to hypoxic stress and these have been described extensively. Less well-appreciated is the body of evidence demonstrating that scavenging of nitric oxide (NO) and the reduction of nitrate/nitrite regulate important mechanisms that contribute to tolerance to hypoxia. Although ethylene controls hyponasty and aerenchyma formation, NO production apparently regulates hypoxic ethylene biosynthesis. In the hypoxic mitochondrion, cytochrome c oxidase, which is a major source of NO, also is inhibited by NO, thereby reducing the respiratory rate and enhancing local oxygen concentrations. Nitrite can maintain ATP generation under hypoxia by coupling its reduction to the translocation of protons from the inner side of mitochondria and generating an electrochemical gradient. This reaction can be further coupled to a reaction whereby nonsymbiotic haemoglobin oxidizes NO to nitrate. In addition to these functions, nitrite has been reported to influence mitochondrial structure and supercomplex formation, as well as playing a role in oxygen sensing via the N-end rule pathway. These studies establish that nitrite and NO perform multiple functions during plant hypoxia and suggest that further research into the underlying mechanisms is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1151
Number of pages9
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 02 Jan 2020


  • cytochrome c oxidase
  • hyponasty
  • hypoxia
  • mitochondria
  • nitric oxide (NO)
  • nitrite
  • Hypoxia/metabolism
  • Ethylenes/pharmacology
  • Oxygen/pharmacology
  • Nitric Oxide/metabolism
  • Mitochondria/drug effects
  • Plants/metabolism
  • Nitrites/metabolism


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of nitrite and nitric oxide under low oxygen conditions in plants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this