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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Vitamin E protects against photoinhibition and photooxidative stress in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Vitamin E is considered a major antioxidant in biomembranes, but little evidence exists for this function in plants under photooxidative stress. Leaf discs of two vitamin E mutants, a tocopherol cyclase mutant (vte1) and a homogentisate phytyl transferase mutant (vte2), were exposed to high light stress at low temperature, which resulted in bleaching and lipid photodestruction. However, this was not observed in whole plants exposed to long-term high light stress, unless the stress conditions were extreme (very low temperature and very high light), suggesting compensatory mechanisms for vitamin E deficiency under physiological conditions. We identified two such mechanisms: nonphotochemical energy dissipation (NPQ) in photosystem II (PSII) and synthesis of zeaxanthin. Inhibition of NPQ in the double mutant vte1 npq4 led to a marked photoinhibition of PSII, suggesting protection of PSII by tocopherols. vte1 plants accumulated more zeaxanthin in high light than the wild type, and inhibiting zeaxanthin synthesis in the vte1 npq1 double mutant resulted in PSII photoinhibition accompanied by extensive oxidation of lipids and pigments. The single mutants npq1, npq4, vte2, and vte1 showed little sensitivity to the stress treatments. We conclude that, in cooperation with the xanthophyll cycle, vitamin E fulfills at least two different functions in chloroplasts at the two major sites of singlet oxygen production: preserving PSII from photoinactivation and protecting membrane lipids from photooxidation.[1]


  1. Vitamin E protects against photoinhibition and photooxidative stress in Arabidopsis thaliana. Havaux, M., Eymery, F., Porfirova, S., Rey, P., Dörmann, P. Plant Cell (2005) [Pubmed]
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