, Volume 214, Issue 4, pp 608-615

Plant aging increases oxidative stress in chloroplasts

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Aging has received considerable attention in biomedicine, but little is known about the regulatory mechanisms responsible for the aging not associated with senescence in plants. This study provides new insights into the relationship between oxidative stress and plant aging, and points out chloroplasts as one of the target organelles of age-associated oxidative stress in plants. We simultaneously analyzed lipid oxidation, photosynthesis, chlorophyll content, de-epoxidation state of the xanthophyll cycle, and levels of chloroplastic antioxidant defenses such as β-carotene and α-tocopherol in leaves of the same age in 1-, 3- and 7-year-old Cistus clusii Dunal plants growing under Mediterranean field conditions. Enhanced formation of malondialdehyde in leaves (2.7-fold) and chloroplasts (2.8-fold), decreased photosynthetic activity (25%), and lower chlorophyll (ca. 20%) and chloroplastic antioxidant defense levels (ca. 25%–85%) were observed in 7-year-old plants, when compared with 1- and 3-year-old plants. The differences observed, which were associated with plant aging, were only noticeable in mature non-senescing plants (7-year-old plants). No differences were observed between pre-reproductive (1-year-old plants) and young plants (3-year-old plants). This study shows that from a certain age, oxidative stress increases progressively in chloroplasts as plants age, whereas photosynthesis is reduced. The results indicate that the oxidative stress associated with the aging in plants accumulates progressively in chloroplasts, and that the contribution of oxidative stress to aging increases as plants age.

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