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Biotechnol Lett. 2008 Jun;30(6):967-77. doi: 10.1007/s10529-008-9639-z. Epub 2008 Jan 29.

Fatty acid unsaturation, mobilization, and regulation in the response of plants to stress.

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  • 1Soybean & Nitrogen Fixation Unit, USDA-ARS, Raleigh, NC, USA.


Stress acclimating plants respond to abiotic and biotic stress by remodeling membrane fluidity and by releasing alpha-linolenic (18:3) from membrane lipids. The modification of membrane fluidity is mediated by changes in unsaturated fatty acid levels, a function provided in part by the regulated activity of fatty acid desaturases. Adjustment of membrane fluidity maintains an environment suitable for the function of critical integral proteins during stress. alpha-Linolenic acid, released from membrane lipid by regulated lipase activity, is the precursor molecule for phyto-oxylipin biosynthesis. The modulation of chloroplast oleic acid (18:1) levels is central to the normal expression of defense responses to pathogens in Arabidopsis. Oleic (18:1) and linolenic (18:2) acid levels, in part, regulate development, seed colonization, and mycotoxin production by Aspergillus spp.

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