Journal of Plant Growth Regulation

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 216–232 | Cite as

Role of Secondary Metabolites and Brassinosteroids in Plant Defense Against Environmental Stresses

  • Arti Bartwal
  • Rakesh Mall
  • Pushpa Lohani
  • S. K. Guru
  • Sandeep AroraEmail author


Being sessile, plants are subjected to a diverse array of environmental stresses during their life span. Exposure of plants to environmental stresses results in the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). These activated oxygen species tend to oxidize various cellular biomolecules like proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids, a process that challenges the core existence of the cell. To prevent the accumulation of these ROS and to sustain their own survival, plants have developed an intricate antioxidative defence system. The antioxidative defence system comprises various enzymatic and nonenzymatic molecules, produced to counter the adverse effect of environmental stresses. A sizable number of these molecules belong to the category of compounds called secondary metabolites. Secondary metabolites are organic compounds that are not directly involved in the growth and development of plants but perform specialized functions under a given set of conditions. Absence of secondary metabolites results in long-term impairment of the plant’s survivability. Such compounds generally include pigments, phenolics, and so on. Plant phenolic compounds such as flavonoids and lignin precursors have been reported to accumulate in response to various biotic and abiotic stresses and are regarded as crucial defence compounds that can scavenge harmful ROS. Another important category of plant metabolites, called brassinosteroids, exhibit stress regulatory and growth-promoting activity and are classified as phytohormones. Elucidation of the physiological and molecular effects of secondary metabolites and brassinosteroids have catapulted them as highly promising and environment-friendly natural substances, suitable for wider application in plant protection and crop yield promotion. The present review focuses on our current understanding of how plants respond to the generation of excessive ROS and the role of secondary metabolites and brassinosteroids in countering the adverse effects of environmental stresses.


Environmental stress Reactive oxygen species Antioxidative defence Secondary metabolites Brassinosteroids 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arti Bartwal
    • 1
  • Rakesh Mall
    • 1
  • Pushpa Lohani
    • 2
  • S. K. Guru
    • 3
  • Sandeep Arora
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryG. B. Pant University of Agriculture & TechnologyPantnagarIndia
  2. 2.Department of Molecular Biology and Genetic EngineeringG. B. Pant University of Agriculture & TechnologyPantnagarIndia
  3. 3.Department of Plant PhysiologyG. B. Pant University of Agriculture & TechnologyPantnagarIndia

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