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Trends Plant Sci. 2005 Apr;10(4):166-9.

Isoprenoids: an evolutionary pool for photoprotection.

Author information

  • 1Unitat d'Ecofisiologia CSIC-CEAB-CREAF, Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications, Edifici C, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain. josep.penuelas@uab.es


Plants have evolved several mechanisms for getting rid of excess energy in photosynthetic membranes, some of which involve isoprenoid compounds. In all photosynthetic organisms, the carotenoids beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, and tocopherols serve an important photoprotective role, either by dissipating excess excitation energy as heat or by scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS) and suppressing lipid peroxidation. Isoprene and some monoterpenes, diterpenes and other carotenoids also occur in some plant lineages. Compelling evidence indicates that these non-ubiquitous isoprenoids might be particularly relevant in adapting plants to adverse climatic conditions by serving as additional and/or alternative protection mechanisms.

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