Overcoming ammonium toxicity

András Bittsánszky, Katalin Pilinszky, Gábor Gyulai, Tamas Komives

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

88 Citations (Scopus)


Ammonia (ammonium ion under physiological conditions) is one of the key nitrogen sources in cellular amino acid biosynthesis. It is continuously produced in living organisms by a number of biochemical processes, but its accumulation in cells leads to tissue damage. Current knowledge suggests that a few enzymes and transporters are responsible for maintaining the delicate balance of ammonium fluxes in plant tissues. In this study we analyze the data in the scientific literature and the publicly available information on the dozens of biochemical reactions in which endogenous ammonium is produced or consumed, the enzymes that catalyze them, and the enzyme and transporter mutants listed in plant metabolic and genetic databases (Plant Metabolic Network, TAIR, and Genevestigator). Our compiled data show a surprisingly high number of little-studied reactions that might influence cellular ammonium concentrations. The role of ammonium in apoptosis, its relation to oxidative stress, and alterations in ammonium metabolism induced by environmental stress need to be explored in order to develop methods to manage ammonium toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-190
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Science
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Ammonia
  • Ammonium
  • Cellular responses
  • Phytotoxicity
  • Selective ammonia uptake, transport and detoxification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

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    Bittsánszky, A., Pilinszky, K., Gyulai, G., & Komives, T. (2015). Overcoming ammonium toxicity. Plant Science, 231, 184-190. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plantsci.2014.12.005