Advances in Plant Sulfur Metabolism and Signaling

  • Cecilia GotorEmail author
  • Ana M. Laureano-Marín
  • Lucía Arenas-Alfonseca
  • Inmaculada Moreno
  • Ángeles Aroca
  • Irene García
  • Luis C. Romero
Part of the Progress in Botany book series (BOTANY, volume 78)


Sulfur is an essential element for life, and the entry point of organic sulfur into the metabolism and into the human food chain is through cysteine, initially synthesized in plants. Cysteine is synthesized in the last stage of the plant photosynthetic assimilation of sulfate and is a very important metabolite because it is crucial for the structure, function and regulation of proteins and also because it is the precursor of essential biomolecules and defense compounds. Recent research focused on determining the specific roles of the enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of cysteine and the metabolites they produce has provided new perspectives on their functions. Thus, the cases of the less-abundant cytosolic DES1 with l-cysteine desulfhydrase activity and the major mitochondrial enzyme CAS-C1 with β-cyanoalanine synthase activity highlight the importance of sulfide and cyanide as signaling molecules involved in regulating essential processes for plant performance. The research has provided insight into the role of the sulfide specifically generated from cysteine in the cytosol as a signaling molecule regulating the processes of autophagy and of abscisic acid-dependent stomatal movement. One of the proposed mechanisms of action of sulfide involving the post-translational modification of cysteine residues in proteins by S-sulfhydration has been demonstrated recently in plants. In addition, in the mitochondria, cysteine plays a central role in maintaining discrete concentrations of cyanide with signaling purposes for proper root hair development to occur and for the modulation of the plant immune system. Therefore, a fundamental conceptual change regarding cysteine and related molecules performing signaling roles is proposed.


Sulfate Transporter Genetic Complementation Sulfate Assimilation Root Hair Development Omics Technology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was funded in part by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad (grant MOLCIS, no. BIO2013-44648-P). A. M. L.-M. and L. A.-A. thank the Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad for fellowship support through the program of Formación de Personal Investigador. A. A. thanks the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas for support through the postdoctoral program of the Junta de Ampliación de Estudios.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecilia Gotor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ana M. Laureano-Marín
    • 1
  • Lucía Arenas-Alfonseca
    • 1
  • Inmaculada Moreno
    • 1
  • Ángeles Aroca
    • 1
  • Irene García
    • 1
  • Luis C. Romero
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Bioquímica Vegetal y Fotosíntesis, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicias, Universidad de SevillaSevillaSpain

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