Polyphenol oxidase-mediated protection against oxidative stress is not associated with enhanced photosynthetic efficiency

Tinne Boeckx, Richard Webster, Ana Winters, Judith Webb, Alan Gay, Alison Kingston-Smith

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Background and Aims Polyphenol oxidases (PPOs) catalyse the oxidation of monophenols and/or o-diphenols to highly reactive o-quinones, which in turn interact with oxygen and proteins to form reactive oxygen species (ROS) and typical brown-pigmented complexes. Hence PPOs can affect local levels of oxygen and ROS. Although the currently known substrates are located in the vacuole, the enzyme is targeted to the thylakoid lumen, suggesting a role for PPOs in photosynthesis. The current study was designed to investigate the potential involvement of PPOs in the photosynthetic response to oxidative stress.

Methods Photosynthesis (A, Fv/Fm, ΦPSII, qN, qP, NPQ) was measured in leaves of a wild-type and a low-PPO mutant of red clover (Trifolium pratense ‘Milvus’) under control conditions and under a stress treatment designed to induce photooxidative stress: cold/high light (2 °C/580 µmol m2 s–1) or 0–10 µM methyl viologen. Foliar protein content and oxidation state were also determined.

Key Results Photosynthetic performance, and chlorophyll and protein content during 4 d of cold/high light stress and 3 d of subsequent recovery under control growth conditions showed similar susceptibility to stress in both lines. However, more extensive oxidative damage to protein in mutants than wild-types was observed after treatment of attached leaves with methyl viologen. In addition, PPO activity could be associated with an increased capacity to dissipate excess energy, but only at relatively low methyl viologen doses.

Conclusions The presence of PPO activity in leaves did not correspond to a direct role for the enzyme in the regulation or protection of photosynthesis under cold stress. However, an indication that PPO could be involved in cellular protection against low-level oxidative stress requires further investigation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-540
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Botany
Issue number4
Early online date03 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2015


  • Trifolium pratense 'Milvus'
  • red clover
  • polyphenol oxidase
  • PPO
  • cold
  • methyl viologen
  • photosynthesis
  • chlorophyll fluorescence
  • protein oxidation
  • reactive oxygen species
  • ROS


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