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Plant J. 2002 Jul;31(2):189-97.

Evidence for the presence and activity of a complete antioxidant defence system in mature sieve tubes.

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Department Willmitzer, Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie, Am Mühlenberg 1, 14476 Golm, Germany.


The phloem is the major route for the transport of solutes and nutrients from source to sink organs in plants. The functional transport phloem consists of parenchymal tissue, enucleate sieve elements, and the intimately connected companion cells. The general absence of a nucleus and functional ribosomes in sieve tubes poses problems especially for damage avoidance and repair of sieve element components. To examine how sieve tubes can remain functional during oxidative stress, we analysed phloem sap of cucumber and pumpkin plants with respect to the presence of antioxidant defence enzymes, their enzymatic activity, and activity changes after exposure to drought stress. Using 1D SDS-PAGE and nano ESI MS/MS, the presence of proteins such as cytosolic Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase, monodehydroascorbate reductase, and peroxidase could be shown. Moreover, activities for several antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, dehydroascorbate reductase, peroxidase) in phloem exudate could be demonstrated. The activity of these enzymes in phloem sap from cucumber and pumpkin plants increased in response to drought stress. The presented results together with earlier findings provide evidence supporting the presence of a complete machinery of antioxidant defence enzymes and detoxifying metabolites important for avoiding damage to essential components of the sieve elements due to oxidative stress.

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