Mechanisms of nitrogen use in maize

Emmanuel Asibi Aziiba, Chai Qiang, Jeffrey A. Coulter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Nitrogen (N) fertilizers are needed to enhance maize (Zea mays L.) production. Maize plays a major role in the livestock industry, biofuels, and human nutrition. Globally, less than one-half of applied N is recovered by maize. Although the application of N fertilizer can improve maize yield, excess N application due to low knowledge of the mechanisms of nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) poses serious threats to environmental sustainability. Increased environmental consciousness and an ever-increasing human population necessitate improved N utilization strategies in maize production. Enhanced understanding of the relationship between maize growth and productivity and the dynamics of maize N recovery are of major significance. A better understanding of the metabolic and genetic control of N acquisition and remobilization during vegetative and reproductive phases are important to improve maize productivity and to avoid excessive use of N fertilizers. Synchronizing the N supply with maize N demand throughout the growing season is key to improving NUE and reducing N loss to the environment. This review examines the mechanisms of N use in maize to provide a basis for driving innovations to improve NUE and reduce risks of negative environmental impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number775
Issue number12
StatePublished - Nov 20 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


  • Maize production
  • Nitrogen nutrition
  • Nitrogen use efficiency


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