Tansley review No. 111 - Possible roles of zinc in protecting plant cells from damage by reactive oxygen species

Cakmak I.

NEW PHYTOLOGIST, vol.146, no.2, pp.185-205, 2000 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 146 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2000
  • Doi Number: 10.1046/j.1469-8137.2000.00630.x
  • Title of Journal : NEW PHYTOLOGIST
  • Page Numbers: pp.185-205


Zinc deficiency is one of the most widespread micronutrient deficiencies in plants and causes severe reductions in crop production. There are a number of physiological impairments in Zn-deficient cells causing inhibition of the growth, differentiation and development of plants. Increasing evidence indicates that oxidative damage to critical cell compounds resulting from attack by reactive O-2 species (ROS) is the basis of disturbances in plant growth caused by Zn deficiency. Zinc interferes with membrane-bound NADPH oxidase producing ROS. In Zn-deficient plants the iron concentration increases, which potentiates the production of free radicals. The Zn nutritional status of plants influences photooxidative damage to chloroplasts, catalysed by ROS. Zinc-deficient leaves are highly light-sensitive, rapidly becoming chlorotic and necrotic when exposed to high light intensity. Zinc plays critical roles in the defence system of cells against ROS, and thus represents an excellent protective agent against the oxidation of several vital cell components such as membrane lipids and proteins, chlorophyll, SH-containing enzymes and DNA. The cysteine, histidine and glutamate or aspartate residues represent the most critical Zn-binding sites in enzymes, DNA-binding proteins (Zn-finger proteins) and membrane proteins. In addition, animal studies have shown that Zn is involved in inhibition of apoptosis (programmed cell death) which is preceded by DNA and membrane damage through reactions with ROS.