Biotic and heavy metal stress response in plants: evidence for common signals

FEBS Lett. 2004 May 21;566(1-3):1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2004.04.011.


In higher plants, biotic stress (e.g., herbivore or pathogen attack) as well as abiotic stress (in particular heavy metals) often induce the synthesis and accumulation of the same defense-related secondary metabolites. This well-known finding still awaits an explanation regarding the common features of both stress types. In this study, a mechanism is proposed that links reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation with lipid oxidation processes, ultimately resulting in the formation of similar, highly active signalling compounds. The generation of ROS is a common event in both heavy metal treatment and biotic stress although it can depend on quite different, enzymatic and non-enzymatic reactions. Regardless, ROS are involved in the oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids which initiate the formation of oxylipins, a highly variable class of lipid-derived compounds in plants. Oxylipins represent new endogenous signals involved in biotic- and abiotic-induced stress responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Lipoxygenase / metabolism
  • Metals, Heavy / toxicity*
  • NADPH Oxidases / metabolism
  • Oils, Volatile / analysis
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Phaseolus / drug effects
  • Phaseolus / metabolism
  • Phaseolus / parasitology
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Plants / drug effects
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Spodoptera / pathogenicity


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Lipoxygenase
  • NADPH Oxidases