International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Vol.14, No.3, 6382-6413, 2013
The Influence of Metal Stress on the Availability and Redox State of Ascorbate, and Possible Interference with Its Cellular Functions
Worldwide, metals have been distributed to excessive levels in the environment due to industrial and agricultural activities. Plants growing on soils contaminated with excess levels of metals experience a disturbance of the cellular redox balance, which leads to an augmentation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Even though the increased ROS levels can cause cellular damage, controlled levels play an important role in modulating signaling networks that control physiological processes and stress responses. Plants control ROS levels using their antioxidative defense system both under non-stress conditions, as well as under stress conditions such as exposure to excess metals. Ascorbate (AsA) is a well-known and important component of the plant's antioxidative system. As primary antioxidant, it can reduce ROS directly and indirectly via ascorbate peroxidase in the ascorbate-glutathione cycle. Furthermore, AsA fulfills an essential role in physiological processes, some of which are disturbed by excess metals. In this review, known direct effects of excess metals on AsA biosynthesis and functioning will be discussed, as well as the possible interference of metals with the role of AsA in physiological and biochemical processes.