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Science. 2002 Dec 13;298(5601):2149-53.

Antioxidants in photosynthesis and human nutrition.

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  • 1Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0334, USA.


The harnessing of solar energy by photosynthesis depends on a safety valve that effectively eliminates hazardous excess energy and prevents oxidative damage to the plant cells. Many of the compounds that protect plant cells also protect human cells. Improving plant resistance to stress may thus have the beneficial side effect of also improving the nutritional quality of plants in the human diet. The pathways that synthesize these compounds are becoming amenable to genetic manipulation, which may yield benefits as widespread as improved plant stress tolerance and improved human physical and mental health.

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