Plant responses to water stress: role of reactive oxygen species

Plant Signal Behav. 2011 Nov;6(11):1741-5. doi: 10.4161/psb.6.11.17729. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


Responses of plants to water stress may be assigned as either injurious change or tolerance index. One of the primary and cardinal changes in response to drought stress is the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which is being considered as the cause of cellular damage. However, recently a signaling role of such ROS in triggering the ROS scavenging system that may confer protection or tolerance against stress is emerging. Such scavenging system consists of antioxidant enzymes like SOD, catalase and peroxidases, and antioxidant compounds like ascorbate, reduced glutathione; a balance between ROS generation and scavenging ultimately determines the oxidative load. As revealed in case of defence against pathogen, signaling via ROS is initiated by NADPH oxidase-catalyzed superoxide generation in the apoplastic space (cell wall) followed by conversion to hydrogen peroxide by the activity of cell wall-localized SOD. Wall peroxidase may also play role in ROS generation for signaling. Hydrogen peroxide may use Ca2+ and MAPK pathway as downstream signaling cascade. Plant hormones associated with stress responses like ABA and ethylene play their role possibly via a cross talk with ROS towards stress tolerance, thus projecting a dual role of ROS under drought stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dehydration
  • Droughts
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological*
  • Water / physiology*


  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Water