Abstract A brief survey of the biochemistry of the alternative oxidative pathway (‘cyanide‐resistant respiration’) and its occurrence in vivo is given. Several hypotheses about the physiological significance of the alternative chain are discussed. These include a role in (1) heat production, (2) fruit ripening, (3) respiration of plants that contain high levels of cyanogenic glycosides, producing HCN upon wounding, (4) oxidation of NADH that is produced by various causes in excess of that required for ATP production, (5) ion uptake, and (6) osmoregulation. In intact roots of higher plants, the activity of the alternative pathway is more active when less carbohydrate is required for assimilation of N (NH+4 NO‐3 or N2) and is less active in those when carbohydrates are being stored in a storage organ or when the availability of photosynthate is reduced. An increase in carbohydrate requirement for osmoregulation is also correlated with decreased alternative chain activity. It is concluded that the alternative pathway in roots plays an important role in oxidation of sugars which are not required for carbon skeletons, energy production for growth and maintenance processes, osmoregulation or storage. However, the significance of this role may vary in different tissues and physiological states.
Plant Cell & Environment – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 1980
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