• mitochondria;
  • MoCo enzymes;
  • Nicotiana tabacum;
  • nitrate reductase;
  • nitric oxide;
  • NO emission


Quantitative data on nitric oxide (NO) production by plants, and knowledge of participating reactions and rate limiting factors are still rare. We quantified NO emission from tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) wild-type leaves, from nitrate reductase (NR)- or nitrite reductase (NiR)-deficient leaves, from WT- or from NR-deficient cell suspensions and from mitochondria purified from leaves or cells, by following NO emission through chemiluminescence detection. In all systems, NO emission was exclusively due to the reduction of nitrite to NO, and the nitrite concentration was an important rate limiting factor. Using inhibitors and purified mitochondria, mitochondrial electron transport was identified as a major source for reduction of nitrite to NO, in addition to NR. NiR and xanthine dehydrogenase appeared to be not involved. At equal respiratory activity, mitochondria from suspension cells had a much higher capacity to produce NO than leaf mitochondria. NO emission in vivo by NiR-mutant leaves (which was not nitrite limited) was proportional to photosynthesis (high in light +CO2, low in light −CO2, or in the dark). With most systems including mitochondrial preparations, NO emission was low in air (and darkness for leaves), but high under anoxia (nitrogen). In contrast, NO emission by purified NR was not much different in air and nitrogen. The low aerobic NO emission of darkened leaves and cell suspensions was not due to low cytosolic NADH, and appeared only partly affected by oxygen-dependent NO scavenging. The relative contribution of NR and mitochondria to nitrite-dependent NO production is estimated.