Singlet oxygen in plants: production, detoxification and signaling

Trends Plant Sci. 2009 Apr;14(4):219-28. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2009.01.008. Epub 2009 Mar 18.


Singlet oxygen ((1)O(2)) is a singular reactive oxygen species (ROS) that is produced constitutively in plant leaves in light via chlorophylls that act as photosensitizers. This (1)O(2) production is spatially resolved within thylakoid membranes and is enhanced under light stress conditions. (1)O(2) can also be produced by phytotoxins during plant-pathogen interactions. (1)O(2) is highly reactive, can be toxic to cells and can be involved in the signaling of programmed cell death or acclimation processes. Here, we summarize current knowledge on (1)O(2) management in plants and on the biological effects of this peculiar ROS. Compared with other ROS, (1)O(2) has received relatively little attention, but recent developments indicate that it has a crucial role in the responses of plants to light.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chlorophyll / chemistry
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Structure
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / chemistry
  • Photosystem II Protein Complex / metabolism
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / radiation effects
  • Singlet Oxygen / chemistry
  • Singlet Oxygen / metabolism*


  • Photosystem II Protein Complex
  • Chlorophyll
  • Singlet Oxygen