How nitrate regulates gene expression in legumes

Plants in the bean family (legumes) form nodules on their roots to take up nitrogen. Legumes will stop nodule production when nitrogen is plentiful (Figure 1), but precisely how nitrate presence controls nodule formation ...

The blast that shook the ionosphere

Just after 6 p.m. local time (15.00 UTC) on August 4, 2020, more than 2,750 tons worth of unsafely stored ammonium nitrate exploded in Lebanon's port city of Beirut, killing around 200 people, making more than 300,000 temporarily ...

Technology to detect chemicals in fruit and vegetables

An ITMO Ph.D. student with her colleagues from Russia, Spain and Singapore has developed flexible sensing films based on silver nanoparticles that can be used to identify the presence of pesticide residue on the surface of ...

The dynamics of nitrogen-based fertilizers in the root zone

Nutrient contamination of groundwater as a result of nitrogen-based fertilizers is a problem in many places in Europe. Calculations by a team of scientists led by the UFZ have shown that over a period of at least four months ...

From nitrate crisis to phosphate crisis?

The aim of the EU Nitrates Directive is to reduce nitrates leaking into the environment in order to prevent pollution of water supplies. The widely accepted view is that this will also help protect threatened plant species ...

Research teams make plant nutrient delivery breakthrough

When most people think of fungi, the thoughts are usually not good, turning to something that does damage more than those that are actually helpful. Yet, fungi play a critical role in the growth and development of plant life ...

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The nitrate ion is a polyatomic ion with the molecular formula NO− 3 and a molecular mass of 62.0049 g/mol. It is the conjugate base of nitric acid, consisting of one central nitrogen atom surrounded by three identically-bonded oxygen atoms in a trigonal planar arrangement. The nitrate ion carries a formal charge of -1. This results from a combination formal charge in which each of the three oxygens carries a −2⁄3 charge, whereas the nitrogen carries a +1 charge, all these adding up to formal charge of the polyatomic nitrate ion.

This arrangement is commonly used as an example of resonance. Like the isoelectronic carbonate ion, the nitrate ion can be represented by resonance structures:

Almost all inorganic nitrate salts are soluble in water at standard temperature and pressure. A common example of an inorganic nitrate salt is potassium nitrate (saltpetre).

In organic chemistry a nitrate (not to be confused with nitro) is a functional group with general chemical formula RONO2 where R stands for any organic residue. They are the esters of nitric acid and alcohols formed by nitroxylation. Examples are methyl nitrate formed by reaction of methanol and nitric acid, the nitrate of tartaric acid, and the inaccurately-named nitroglycerin (which is actually an organic nitrate compound, not a nitro compound).

Like organic nitro compounds (see below) both organic and inorganic nitrates can be used as propellants and explosives. An example of the use of inorganic nitrate was classical gunpowder. In all these uses the thermal decomposition of the nitrate yields molecular nitrogen N2 gas plus considerable chemical energy, due to the high strength of the bond in molecular nitrogen. Especially in inorganic nitrate reactions, oxidation from the nitrate oxygens is also an important energy-releasing process.

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