Does the alternative pathway ameliorate chilling injury in sensitive plant tissues?


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Free radical processes have been observed in senescence and several membrane-associated disorders of plants including chilling, freezing, and desiccation injuries. The mitochondria of plant tissues exposed to low temperatures, and other abiotic and biotic stresses, produce superoxide and/or hydrogen peroxide when electron transport through the cytochrome pathway is impaired due to the energy state of the cell or to stress-induced physical changes in the membrane components. The superoxide and/or hydrogen peroxide produced can diffuse throughout the cell causing peroxidation of membrane lipids which results in membrane disruption, increased permeability and metabolic disturbances, and eventually the visible symptoms of chilling injury. The alternative pathway of electron transport in the mitochondria, which is induced by low temperatures in some plant tissues, can mediate these degradative processes by reducing the level of superoxide generated by the mitochondria.