Reactive oxygen species as signals that modulate plant stress responses and programmed cell death



Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are known as toxic metabolic products in plants and other aerobic organisms. An elaborate and highly redundant plant ROS network, composed of antioxidant enzymes, antioxidants and ROS-producing enzymes, is responsible for maintaining ROS levels under tight control. This allows ROS to serve as signaling molecules that coordinate an astonishing range of diverse plant processes. The specificity of the biological response to ROS depends on the chemical identity of ROS, intensity of the signal, sites of production, plant developmental stage, previous stresses encountered and interactions with other signaling molecules such as nitric oxide, lipid messengers and plant hormones. Although many components of the ROS signaling network have recently been identified, the challenge remains to understand how ROS-derived signals are integrated to eventually regulate such biological processes as plant growth, development, stress adaptation and programmed cell death. BioEssays 28: 1091–1101, 2006. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.