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EMBO Rep. 2008 May;9(5):435-9. doi: 10.1038/embor.2008.57.

No single way to understand singlet oxygen signalling in plants.

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  • 1Institute of Plant Sciences, ETH Zurich, Universitätsstrasse 2, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland.


When plant cells are under environmental stress, several chemically distinct reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated simultaneously in various intracellular compartments and these can cause oxidative damage or act as signals. The conditional flu mutant of Arabidopsis, which generates singlet oxygen in plastids during a dark-to-light transition, has allowed the biological activity of singlet oxygen to be determined, and the criteria to distinguish between cytotoxicity and signalling of this particular ROS to be defined. The genetic basis of singlet-oxygen-mediated signalling has been revealed by the mutation of two nuclear genes encoding the plastid proteins EXECUTER (EX)1 and EX2, which are sufficient to abrogate singlet-oxygen-dependent stress responses. Conversely, responses due to higher cytotoxic levels of singlet oxygen are not suppressed in the ex1/ex2 background. Whether singlet oxygen levels lower than those that trigger genetically controlled cell death activate acclimation is now under investigation.

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