• Acclimation;
  • photorespiration;
  • photosynthesis optimisation;
  • redox modulation;
  • ROS sensor


When plants are exposed to stress, generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is often one of the first responses. In order to survive, cells attempt to down-regulate the production of ROS, while at the same time scavenging ROS. Photorespiration is now appreciated as an important part of stress responses in green tissues for preventing ROS accumulation. Photorespiratory reactions can dissipate excess reducing equivalents and energy either directly (using ATP, NAD(P)H and reduced ferredoxin) or indirectly (e.g., via alternative oxidase (AOX) and providing an internal CO2 pool). Photorespiration, however, is also a source of H2O2 that is possibly involved in signal transduction, resulting in modulation of gene expression. We propose that photorespiration can assume a major role in the readjustment of redox homeostasis. Protection of photosynthesis from photoinhibition through photorespiration is well known. Photorespiration can mitigate oxidative stress under conditions of drought/water stress, salinity, low CO2 and chilling. Adjustments to even mild disturbances in redox status, caused by a deficiency in ascorbate, AOX or chloroplastic NADP-malate dehydrogenase, comprise increases in photorespiratory components such as catalase, P-protein of glycine decarboxylase complex (GDC) and glycine content. The accumulation of excess reducing equivalents or ROS in plant cells also affects mitochondria. Therefore, a strong interaction between the chloroplast redox status and photorespiration is not surprising, but highlights interesting properties evident in plant cells. We draw attention to the fact that a complex network of multiple and dynamic systems, including photorespiration, prevents oxidative damage while optimising photosynthesis. Further experiments are necessary to identify and validate the direct targets of redox signals among photorespiratory components.