Plant metabolism and growth are influenced by many environmental parameters, e.g. light intensity, temperature and the availability of water and minerals. Under unfavourable conditions, cytotoxic amounts of reactive oxygen species can be formed inside cells. Chloroplasts are especially prone to formation of reactive oxygen species. A network of low molecular weight antioxidants and antioxidant enzymes protects them against photooxidative stress.
Since all enzymes involved in antioxidant protection are nuclear encoded, regulation of the chloroplast antioxidant system depends on chloroplast-to-nucleus signalling and regulation of nuclear gene expression. Gene expression studies demonstrated that plastid antioxidant protection responds to environmetal and developmental signals. However, the signalling mechanisms are still widely unknown. To understand how plants cope with unfavourable variations in the environment and protect themselves efficiently against photooxidative damage, our research projects focusses on the following topics:
For a quick overview, we recommend the following review articles: