Reactive oxygen species: Metabolism, oxidative stress, and signal transduction

Klaus Apel*, Heribert Hirt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8982 Scopus citations


Several reactive oxygen species (ROS) are continuously produced in plants as byproducts of aerobic metabolism. Depending on the nature of the ROS species, some are highly toxic and rapidly detoxified by various cellular enzymatic and nonenzymatic mechanisms. Whereas plants are surfeited with mechanisms to combat increased ROS levels during abiotic stress conditions, in other circumstances plants appear to purposefully generate ROS as signaling molecules to control various processes including pathogen defense, programmed cell death, and stomatal behavior. This review describes the mechanisms of ROS generation and removal in plants during development and under biotic and abiotic stress conditions. New insights into the complexity and roles that ROS play in plants have come from genetic analyses of ROS detoxifying and signaling mutants. Considering recent ROS-induced genome-wide expression analyses, the possible functions and mechanisms for ROS sensing and signaling in plants are compared with those in animals and yeast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-399
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual review of plant biology
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Abiotic stress
  • Pathogen defense
  • Programmed cell death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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