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J Exp Bot. 2015 May;66(10):2827-37. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erv099. Epub 2015 Apr 7.

ROS and RNS in plant physiology: an overview.

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Department of Biochemistry and Cell & Molecular Biology of Plants, Estación Experimental del Zaidín, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Apartado 419, E-18080 Granada, Spain


The production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is the unavoidable consequence of aerobic life. ROS is a collective term that includes both oxygen radicals, like superoxide (O 2. -) and hydroxyl (·OH) radicals, and other non-radicals such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), singlet oxygen ((1)O2 or (1)Δg), etc. In plants, ROS are produced in different cell compartments and are oxidizing species, particularly hydroxyl radicals and singlet oxygen, that can produce serious damage in biological systems (oxidative stress). However, plant cells also have an array of antioxidants which, normally, can scavenge the excess oxidants produced and so avoid deleterious effects on the plant cell bio-molecules. The concept of 'oxidative stress' was re-evaluated in recent years and the term 'oxidative signalling' was created. This means that ROS production, apart from being a potentially harmful process, is also an important component of the signalling network that plants use for their development and for responding to environmental challenges. It is known that ROS play an important role regulating numerous biological processes such as growth, development, response to biotic and environmental stresses, and programmed cell death. The term reactive nitrogen species (RNS) includes radicals like nitric oxide (NO· ) and nitric dioxide (NO2.), as well as non-radicals such as nitrous acid (HNO2) and dinitrogen tetroxide (N2O4), among others. RNS are also produced in plants although the generating systems have still not been fully characterized. Nitric oxide (NO·) has an important function as a key signalling molecule in plant growth, development, and senescence, and RNS, like ROS, also play an important role as signalling molecules in the response to environmental (abiotic) stress. Similarly, NO· is a key mediator, in co-operation with ROS, in the defence response to pathogen attacks in plants. ROS and RNS have been demonstrated to have an increasingly important role in biology and medicine.


Antioxidants; RNS signalling; ROS signalling; environmental stress.; hydrogen peroxide (H2O2); nitric oxide (NO); oxidative signalling; oxidative stress; reactive nitrogen species (RNS); reactive oxygen species (ROS); review; superoxide (O2 .-)

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