A wheat transcription factor positively sets seed vigour by regulating the grain nitrate signal.

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Seed vigour and early establishment are important factors determining the yield of crops. A wheat nitrate-inducible NAC transcription factor, TaNAC2 plays a critical role in promoting crop growth and nitrogen use efficiency and now we show its role in seed vigour. We identified a TaNAC2 regulated gene that is a NRT2-type nitrate transporter TaNRT2.5 with a key role in seed vigour. Overexpressing TaNAC2-5A increases grain nitrate concentration and seed vigour by directly binding to the promoter of TaNRT2.5-3B and positively regulating its expression. TaNRT2.5 is expressed in developing grain, particularly the embryo and husk. In Xenopus oocyte assays TaNRT2.5 requires a partner protein TaNAR2.1 to give nitrate transport activity, and the transporter locates to the tonoplast in a tobacco leaf transient expression system. Furthermore, in the root TaNRT2.5 and TaNRT2.1 function in post-anthesis acquisition of soil nitrate. Overexpression of TaNRT2.5-3B increases seed vigour, grain nitrate concentration and yield, while RNA interference of TaNRT2.5 has the opposite effects The TaNAC2-NRT2.5 module has a key role in regulating grain nitrate accumulation and seed vigour. Both genes can potentially be used to improve grain yield and nitrogen use efficiency in wheat.