Over the past five decades, nitrogen (N) fertilization has been an essential tool for boosting crop productivity in agricultural systems. To avoid N pollution while preserving the crop yields and profit margins for farmers, the scientific community is searching for eco-sustainable strategies aimed at increasing plants’ nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). The present article provides a refined definition of the NUE based on the two important physiological factors (N-uptake and N-utilization efficiency). The diverse molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying the processes of N assimilation, translocation, transport, accumulation, and reallocation are revisited and critically discussed. The review concludes by examining the N uptake and NUE in tandem with chloride stress and eustress, the latter being a new approach toward enhancing productivity and functional quality of the horticultural crops, particularly facilitated by soilless cultivation.
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