Main conclusionIn response to low nitrogen stress, multiple hormones together with nitric oxide signaling pathways work synergistically and antagonistically in crop root elongation.AbstractChanging root morphology allows plants to adapt to soil nutrient availability. Nitrogen is the most important essential nutrient for plant growth. An important adaptive strategy for crops responding to nitrogen deficiency is root elongation, thereby accessing increased soil space and nitrogen resources. Multiple signaling pathways are involved in this regulatory network, working together to fine-tune root elongation in response to soil nitrogen availability. Based on existing research, we propose a model to explain how different signaling pathways interact to regulate root elongation in response to low nitrogen stress. In response to a low shoot nitrogen status signal, auxin transport from the shoot to the root increases. High auxin levels in the root tip stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which promotes the synthesis of strigolactones to accelerate cell division. In this process, cytokinin, ethylene, and abscisic acid play an antagonistic role, while brassinosteroids and auxin play a synergistic role in regulating root elongation. Further study is required to identify the QTLs, genes, and favorable alleles which control the root elongation response to low nitrogen stress in crops.