PerspectivePlant Biology

Leaves in the Dark See the Light

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Science  23 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5414, pp. 599-601
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5414.599

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It is not only animals that suffer from sunburn. Plants exposed to excess sunlight suffer photodamage caused by the production of oxygen free radicals, eventually resulting in a shutdown in photosynthesis. Karpinski et al. now report that plants have developed a sophisticated systemic messenger system in which signals produced in leaves exposed to high light intensities travel to distant parts of the plant (that have not been exposed to bright light) and switch on expression of protective antioxidant genes. In their Perspective, Foyer and Noctor discuss the putative identity of the systemic messenger molecule.