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The alternative oxidase of plant mitochondria is involved in the acclimation of shoot growth at low temperature. A study of Arabidopsis AOX1a transgenic plants.

Fiorani F., Umbach A.L., Siedow J.N.

The alternative oxidase (AOX) pathway of plant mitochondria uncouples respiration from mitochondrial ATP production and may ameliorate plant performance under stressful environmental conditions, such as cold temperatures, by preventing excess accumulation of reactive oxygen species. We tested this model in whole tissues by growing AtAOX1a-transformed Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) plants at 12 degrees C. For the first time, to our knowledge, in plants genetically engineered for AOX, we identified a vegetative shoot growth phenotype. Compared with wild type at day 21 after sowing, anti-sense and overexpressing lines showed, on average, 27% reduced leaf area and 25% smaller rosettes versus 30% increased leaf area and 33% larger rosette size, respectively. Lines overexpressing a mutated, constitutively active AOX1a showed smaller phenotypic effects. These phenotypic differences were not the result of a major alteration of the tissue redox state because the changes in levels of lipid peroxidation products, reflecting oxidative damage, and the expression of genes encoding antioxidant and electron transfer chain redox enzymes did not correspond with the shoot phenotypes. However, the observed phenotypes were correlated with the amount of total shoot anthocyanin at low temperature and with the transcription of the flavonoid pathway genes PAL1 and CHS. These results demonstrate that (1) AOX activity plays a role in shoot acclimation to low temperature in Arabidopsis, and that (2) AOX not only functions to prevent excess reactive oxygen species formation in whole tissues under stressful environmental conditions but also affects metabolism through more pervasive effects, including some that are extramitochondrial.

Plant Physiol. 139:1795-1805(2005) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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