Isoprene decreases the concentration of nitric oxide in leaves exposed to elevated ozone


Author for correspondence: Francesco Loreto Tel: +39 06 90672530 Fax: +39 06 9064492 Email:


  • • Isoprene reduces visible damage (necrosis) of leaves caused by exposure to ozone but the mechanism is not known. Here we show that in Phragmites leaves isoprene emission was stimulated after a 3-h exposure to high ozone levels.
  • • The photosynthetic apparatus of leaves in which isoprene emission was inhibited by fosmidomycin became more susceptible to damage by ozone than in isoprene-emitting leaves. Three days after ozone fumigation, the necrotic leaf area was significantly higher in isoprene-inhibited leaves than in isoprene-emitting leaves.
  • • Isoprene-inhibited leaves also accumulated high amounts of nitric oxide (NO), as detected by epifluorescence light microscopy.
  • • Our results confirm that oxidative stresses activate biosynthesis and emission of chloroplastic isoprenoid, bringing further evidence in support of an antioxidant role for these compounds. It is suggested that, in nature, the simultaneous quenching of NO and reactive oxygen species by isoprene may be a very effective mechanism to control dangerous compounds formed under abiotic stress conditions, while simultaneously attenuating the induction of the hypersensitive response leading to cellular damage and death.