Boron deficiency-induced impairments of cellular functions in plants

Cakmak I., Romheld V.

PLANT AND SOIL, vol.193, pp.71-83, 1997 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 193
  • Publication Date: 1997
  • Doi Number: 10.1023/a:1004259808322
  • Journal Name: PLANT AND SOIL
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.71-83
  • Çukurova University Affiliated: No


The essentiality of B for growth and development of plants is well-known, but the primary functions of B still remain unknown. Evidence in the literature supports the idea that the major functions of B in growth and development of plants are based on its ability to form complexes with the compounds having cis-diol configurations. In this regard, the formation of B complexes with the constituents of cell walls and plasma membranes as well as with the phenolic compounds seems to be a decisive step affecting the physiological functions of B. Boron seems to be of crucial importance for the maintenance of structural integrity of plasma membranes. This function of B is mainly related to stabilisation of cell membranes by B association with membrane constituents. Possibly, B may also protect plasma membranes against peroxidative damage by toxic O-2 species. In B-deficient plants, plasma membranes are highly leaky and lose their functional integrity. Under B-deficient conditions, substantial changes in ion fluxes and proton pumping activity of the plasma membranes were noted. Impairments in phenol metabolism and increases in levels of phenolics and polyphenoloxidase activity are typical indications of B deficiency, particularly in B deficiency-sensitive plant species, such as Helianthus annuus (sunflower). Enhanced oxidation of phenols is responsible for generation of reactive quinones which subsequently produce extremely toxic O-2 species, thus resulting in the increased risk of a peroxidative damage to vital cell components such as membrane lipids and proteins. In B-deficient tissues, enhancement in levels of toxic O-2 species may also occur as a result of impairments in photosynthesis and antioxidative defence systems. Recent evidence shows that the levels of ascorbic acid, nonprotein SK-compounds (mainly glutathione) and glutathione reductase, the major defence systems of cells against toxic O-2 species, are reduced in response to B deficiency. There is also increasing evidence that, in the heterocyst cells of cyanobacteria, B is involved in protection of nitrogenase activity against O-2 damage.