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Keywords:

  • Antioxidants;
  • APX;
  • GR;
  • oxidative stress;
  • reactive oxygen species;
  • SOD;
  • superoxide

The imposition of oxidative stress leads to increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in plant cells. Orchestrated defense processes ensue that have much in common between stresses, yet are also particular to the site of action of the stress and its concentration. Possible functional roles of these responses include, but are not restricted to, the protection of the photosynthetic machinery, the preservation of membrane integrity and the protection of DNA and proteins. Superimposed upon our understanding of cellular mechanisms for protection against abiotic stress is a newly discovered role of ROS in signalling and defense response to pathogens (J. L. Dangl, R. A. Dietrich and M. S. Richberg. 1996. Plant Cell 8: 1793–1807). Evidence to date suggests a coordinated response to ROS among different members of the superoxide dismutase (SOD) gene families. A further layer of complexity is afforded by reports of coordination of expression between ascorbate peroxidase and SOD genes. Our understanding of the signalling mechanisms that underlie these coordinated events is in its infancy. An exciting future lies ahead in which the orchestration of successful antioxidant stress responses will be gradually revealed. Current data suggest that complex regulatory mechanisms function at both the gene and protein level to coordinate antioxidant responses and that a critical role is played by organellar localization and inter-compartment coordination.