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Amino Acids. 2008 Jan;34(1):35-45. Epub 2007 Mar 14.

Polyamines and abiotic stress: recent advances.

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Departamento de Química Biológica, Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


In this review we will concentrate in the results published the last years regarding the involvement of polyamines in the plant responses to abiotic stresses, most remarkably on salt and drought stress. We will also turn to other types of abiotic stresses, less studied in relation to polyamine metabolism, such as mineral deficiencies, chilling, wounding, heavy metals, UV, ozone and paraquat, where polyamine metabolism is also modified. There is a great amount of data demonstrating that under many types of abiotic stresses, an accumulation of the three main polyamines putrescine, spermidine and spermine does occur. However, there are still many doubts concerning the role that polyamines play in stress tolerance. Several environmental challenges (osmotic stress, salinity, ozone, UV) are shown to induce ADC activity more than ODC. The rise in Put is mainly attributed to the increase in ADC activity as a consequence of the activation of ADC genes and their mRNA levels. On the other hand, free radicals are now accepted as important mediators of tissue injury and cell death. The polycationic nature of polyamines, positively charged at physiological pH, has attracted the attention of researchers and has led to the hypothesis that polyamines could affect physiological systems by binding to anionic sites, such as those associated with nucleic acids and membrane phospholipids. These amines, involved with the control of numerous cellular functions, including free radical scavenger and antioxidant activity, have been found to confer protection from abiotic stresses but their mode of action is not fully understood yet. In this review, we will also summarize information about the involvement of polyamines as antioxidants against the potential abiotic stress-derived oxidative damage.

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