Fatty acid unsaturation, mobilization, and regulation in the response of plants to stress

Biotechnol Lett. 2008 Jun;30(6):967-77. doi: 10.1007/s10529-008-9639-z. Epub 2008 Jan 29.


Stress acclimating plants respond to abiotic and biotic stress by remodeling membrane fluidity and by releasing alpha-linolenic (18:3) from membrane lipids. The modification of membrane fluidity is mediated by changes in unsaturated fatty acid levels, a function provided in part by the regulated activity of fatty acid desaturases. Adjustment of membrane fluidity maintains an environment suitable for the function of critical integral proteins during stress. alpha-Linolenic acid, released from membrane lipid by regulated lipase activity, is the precursor molecule for phyto-oxylipin biosynthesis. The modulation of chloroplast oleic acid (18:1) levels is central to the normal expression of defense responses to pathogens in Arabidopsis. Oleic (18:1) and linolenic (18:2) acid levels, in part, regulate development, seed colonization, and mycotoxin production by Aspergillus spp.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / microbiology
  • Aspergillus / physiology
  • Cold Temperature
  • Dehydration / metabolism
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / metabolism*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Hot Temperature
  • Membrane Fluidity*
  • Metals, Heavy / metabolism
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Salinity
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / metabolism*


  • Metals, Heavy
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases