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Manuscript Submission Deadline 30 April 2022
Manuscript Extension Submission Deadline 31 January 2023

The predominant role of unused fertilizers in reactive nitrogen pollution and the need for research and policies to improve nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) is now well known globally. NUE research was originally championed by the scientists of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) and later recognized by ...

The predominant role of unused fertilizers in reactive nitrogen pollution and the need for research and policies to improve nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) is now well known globally. NUE research was originally championed by the scientists of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) and later recognized by some national governments and UN agencies such as UNEP, FAO and UNECE. The resulting first ever UN resolution on “Sustainable nitrogen management” in 2019 boosted the demand for solutions, especially in agriculture. The Berlin Declaration from the INI 2021 conference called for improvement of nitrogen use efficiency towards achieving sustainable food systems and all the 17 sustainable development goals.

Crop NUE is primarily a biological problem, as there exists a genetic limit to agronomic improvement. Overcoming this genetic barrier for crop improvement requires better understanding of the biological mechanisms of N-response and the genetic determinants of NUE. Fortunately, crop genomics in general and the functional genomics of N-response in particular have been providing a wealth of information. The recent developments in phenotyping and genotyping for NUE and the emergence of phenomics, coupled with the growing ability of bioinformatics to integrate diverse datasets offer unprecedented opportunities to solve the NUE puzzle. Some candidate genes for this multi-genic trait have been validated, while some others are being identified, shortlisted or offered for validation.

These developments have not only enabled parallel progress in understanding the mechanism and improving NUE, but also aided in accelerating the transition from model plants to crops. Frontiers in Plant Sciences has recently published 22 articles on the topic, ‘Nitrogen Use Efficiency and Sustainable Nitrogen Management in Crop Plants’ during 2020-21. This sequel focuses on documenting the accelerating progress in the functional biology of crop NUE and its improvement.

This Research Topic invites articles that advance the physiological, biochemical, molecular, genetic, genomic or phenotypic molecular understanding of the plant N-response and NUE, apart from identification and/or validation of targets to improve crop NUE. Descriptive articles or mere reporting of data even in the above fields are not likely to be considered, unless they provide functional or mechanistic insights into the functional plant biology of NUE or its improvement. Accordingly, manuscripts for research and review articles are welcome in areas such as:
• Functional biological characterization of N-response/NUE, including multi-omics approaches, biological and genetic differentiation between N-response and NUE or development of a biologically and genetically robust definition of NUE.
• Advancing the characterization of the NUE phenotype and/or its adaptation for phenomics in different crops for different N-forms.
• Advancing the characterization of the NUE genotype and role of nuclear or organellar genes, their mechanism of regulating NUE;
• Identification and shortlisting of candidate genes/loci for NUE, genome wide association mapping, QTL analysis and validation of allelic variation among candidate genes for NUE
• Validation of candidate genes/loci/alleles for NUE using mutants, transgenics or genome editing.
• Quantitation of the endophytic microbial N-fixation to the crop plant’s N-budget and NUE.
• Nitrogen in overall nutrient and/or stress response and the functional biology of their optimization, N-losses from plants and their mitigation.

Keywords: Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), Crop improvement, Functional plant biology, N-response, Omics, Phenomics, QTL, Gene expression, Genetic Engineering


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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