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1.  Isoprene improves photochemical efficiency and enhances heat dissipation in plants at physiological temperatures 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(6):1565-1570.
At physiological temperatures, chloroplasts of isoprene-emitting leaves dissipate less energy as heat than chloroplasts of non-emitting leaves, determining a more efficient electron transfer through PSII.
Isoprene-emitting plants are better protected against thermal and oxidative stresses. Isoprene may strengthen membranes avoiding their denaturation and may quench reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, achieving a similar protective effect. The physiological role of isoprene in unstressed plants, up to now, is not understood. It is shown here, by monitoring the non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) of chlorophyll fluorescence of leaves with chemically or genetically altered isoprene biosynthesis, that chloroplasts of isoprene-emitting leaves dissipate less energy as heat than chloroplasts of non-emitting leaves, when exposed to physiologically high temperatures (28–37 °C) that do not impair the photosynthetic apparatus. The effect was especially remarkable at foliar temperatures between 30 °C and 35 °C, at which isoprene emission is maximized and NPQ is quenched by about 20%. Isoprene may also allow better stability of photosynthetic membranes and a more efficient electron transfer through PSII at physiological temperatures, explaining most of the NPQ reduction and the slightly higher photochemical quenching that was also observed in isoprene-emitting leaves. The possibility that isoprene emission helps in removing thermal energy at the thylakoid level is also put forward, although such an effect was calculated to be minimal. These experiments expand current evidence that isoprene is an important trait against thermal and oxidative stresses and also explains why plants invest resources in isoprene under unstressed conditions. By improving PSII efficiency and reducing the need for heat dissipation in photosynthetic membranes, isoprene emitters are best fitted to physiologically high temperatures and will have an evolutionary advantage when adapting to a warming climate.
PMCID: PMC3967094  PMID: 24676032
Chloroplast functionality; climate change; fluorescence quenching; high temperature; isoprene; photosynthesis; stress physiology.
2.  Flavonoids as Antioxidants and Developmental Regulators: Relative Significance in Plants and Humans 
Phenylpropanoids, particularly flavonoids have been recently suggested as playing primary antioxidant functions in the responses of plants to a wide range of abiotic stresses. Furthermore, flavonoids are effective endogenous regulators of auxin movement, thus behaving as developmental regulators. Flavonoids are capable of controlling the development of individual organs and the whole-plant; and, hence, to contribute to stress-induced morphogenic responses of plants. The significance of flavonoids as scavengers of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in humans has been recently questioned, based on the observation that the flavonoid concentration in plasma and most tissues is too low to effectively reduce ROS. Instead, flavonoids may play key roles as signaling molecules in mammals, through their ability to interact with a wide range of protein kinases, including mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK), that supersede key steps of cell growth and differentiation. Here we discuss about the relative significance of flavonoids as reducing agents and signaling molecules in plants and humans. We show that structural features conferring ROS-scavenger ability to flavonoids are also required to effectively control developmental processes in eukaryotic cells.
PMCID: PMC3588057  PMID: 23434657
auxin movement; chloroplast flavonoids; dihydroxy B-ring-substituted flavonoids; MAPK; nuclear flavonoids; reactive oxygen species (ROS); signaling molecules
3.  Flavonols: old compounds for old roles 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(7):1225-1233.
New roles for flavonoids, as developmental regulators and/or signalling molecules, have recently been proposed in eukaryotic cells exposed to a wide range of environmental stimuli. In plants, these functions are actually restricted to flavonols, the ancient and widespread class of flavonoids. In mosses and liverworts, the whole set of genes for flavonol biosynthesis – CHS, CHI, F3H, FLS and F3′H – has been detected. The flavonol branch pathway has remained intact for millions of years, and is almost exclusively involved in the responses of plants to a wide array of stressful agents, despite the fact that evolution of flavonoid metabolism has produced >10 000 structures.
Here the emerging functional roles of flavonoids in the responses of present-day plants to different stresses are discussed based on early, authoritative views of their primary functions during the colonization of land by plants. Flavonols are not as efficient as other secondary metabolites in absorbing wavelengths in the 290–320 nm spectral region, but display the greatest potential to keep stress-induced changes in cellular reactive oxygen species homeostasis under control, and to regulate the development of individual organs and the whole plant. Very low flavonol concentrations, as probably occurred in early terrestrial plants, may fully accomplish these regulatory functions.
During the last two decades the routine use of genomic, chromatography/mass spectrometry and fluorescence microimaging techniques has provided new insights into the regulation of flavonol metabolism as well as on the inter- and intracellular distribution of stress-responsive flavonols. These findings offer new evidence on how flavonols may have performed a wide array of functional roles during the colonization of land by plants. In our opinion this ancient flavonoid class is still playing the same old and robust roles in present-day plants.
PMCID: PMC3197460  PMID: 21880658
Auxin transport; early flavonoid genes; evolution of early terrestrial plants; flavonol metabolism; Myb genes; ROS scavengers; stress-responsive flavonoids; sub-cellular flavonoid distribution; UV-B screening

Results 1-3 (3)