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Dissection Of Oxidative Stress Tolerance Using Transgenic Plants

R. D. Allen
Published 1995 · Biology, Medicine

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Environmental stress is the major limiting factor in plant productivity. Much of the injury to plants caused by stress exposure is associated with oxidative damage at the cellular level. Widespread losses of forests and crops due to ozone pollution provide a highly visible example of oxidative stress (see Tingey et al., 1993, for a review), but less obvious losses caused by oxidative damage associated with periods of cold or drought also take their toll in the accumulation of incremental setbacks during a growing season. The role of ROIs in plant stress damage is indicated by the increased production of ROIs and the increased oxidative damage in tissues during stress. In plants, the highly energetic reactions of photosynthesis and an abundant oxygen supply make the chloroplast a particularly rich source of ROIs. High light intensity can lead to excess reduction of PSI so that CO2 fixation cannot keep pace and NADP+ pools are reduced. Under these conditions, 02 can compete for electrons from PSI, leading to the generation of ROIs through the Mehler reaction. When CO2 fixation is limited by environmental conditions such as cold temperatures or low CO2 availability (closed stomata), excess PSI reduction and increased ROI production can occur even at moderate light intensities. Efficient removal of ROIs from chloroplasts is critical, since H202 concentrations as low as 10 ptM can inhibit photosynthesis by 50% (Kaiser, 1979). Although the toxicity of *?2and H202 themselves is relatively low, their metal-dependent conversion to the highly toxic -OH via the Haber-Weiss reaction is thought to be responsible for the majority of the biological damage associated with these molecules. Antioxidant systems of plant chloroplasts include enzymes such as SOD and APX, and nonenzymatic components such as ascorbic acid and glutathione. The proposed ROI scavenging pathway of chloroplasts is shown in Figure 1 (Asada, 1994). Superoxide radicals are produced by the reduction of molecular oxygen at PSI via the Mehler reaction. This ?2- is rapidly dismuted to H202 by SOD that is associated with the thylakoid. The H202 produced is
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