ROS Crosstalk in Signalling Pathways


Plants have evolved complex signalling networks in order to respond to the plethora of environmental and developmental stimuli to which they are exposed. Within these networks, a diverse range of signals are integrated, allowing the plant to formulate an appropriate response to the prevailing conditions. An important feature of signalling pathways into networks is the potential for pathways to interact with each other, thereby influencing the responses observed. This is known as crosstalk. Signalling networks act through a hub and spoke model where the hub is a key determinant of the pathways that will crosstalk with one another. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are an example of such a signalling hub that play an intrinsic role in crosstalk within plant stress signalling networks. ROS are of particular interest due to their ability to have positive or negative effects, depending on their abundance within the cell.

Key Concepts

  • Plants employ complex signalling networks in their responses to environmental and developmental stimuli, transducing a wide range of signals from the point of perception, typically via a receptor, to a diverse array of effectors.
  • Signalling can occur via a range of intermediates (chemical, electrical or hydraulic) including well‐characterised secondary messenger compounds.
  • Crosstalk can occur between signalling pathways when one or more of these components interact with each other.
  • ROS are important signalling molecules, essential for plant cell homeostasis and the regulation of vital plant responses, such as reaction to abiotic and biotic stress, hormone signalling and the regulation of growth.
  • ROS can have a positive or negative effect within a cell, acting as either a toxic by‐product of aerobic respiration within cells or essential signalling molecules through their role as an indispensable hub in plant signalling networks.

Keywords: crosstalk; reactive oxygen species (ROS); signal transduction; abscisic acid (ABA); Ca2+ channels; guard cells; root tip

Figure 1. ROS as a signalling hub common to different pathways, allowing points of crosstalk between signalling events. ROS work upstream and downstream of the other signalling components, e.g. membranes, NADPH oxidases, G‐proteins, Ca2+, redox homeostasis, photosynthesis, MAPKs, plant hormones [such as salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid (JA), abscisic acid (ABA) and ethylene] and transcription factors. Solid arrows indicate direct ROS interactions with other signalling components, and dashed arrows for expected indirect interactions. Sewelam et al. . Licensed under CC BY.
Figure 2. Signal propagation from local stimuli by a ROS wave throughout the plant resulting in the activation of systemic acquired acclimation (SAA) to reach distant tissues and activate a response. Integration of the different waves that mediate rapid systemic signalling during SAA. Local stimuli are shown to trigger the ROS/calcium/electric wave, as well as a hydraulic wave that in turn triggers the calcium wave via mechanosensors. Gilroy et al. . Reproduced from American Society of Plant Biologists.
Figure 3. Depiction of the role of Ca2+, pH and ROS as key signalling hubs for elongation of root/pollen cells. When external sources of Ca2+ are taken up by the cell, cytosolic Ca2+ homeostasis is maintained by the transportation of Ca2+ back to the apoplast via autoinhibited Ca2+‐ATPases (ACAs). Ca2+ is additionally translocated back to the apoplast by the H+/Ca2+ antiporter, which also imports protons into the cytoplasm. An increase in cytosolic Ca2+ activates apoplastic ROS production. Apoplastic superoxide is dismutated by superoxide dismutase (SOD) to H2O2. The reactive hydroxyl radical (•OH) is produced through the reaction of apoplastic H2O2 and oxygen O2. •OH then catalyses nonenzymatic cleavage of polysaccharides, thereby allowing tip growth. Singh et al. . Licensed under CC BY.


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Further Reading

Liu J, Moore S, Chen C and Lindsey K (2017) Crosstalk complexities between auxin, cytokinin, and ethylene in arabidopsis root development: from experiments to systems modeling, and back again. Molecular Plant 10: 1480–1496.

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Heap, Brittany, Holden, Claire, Taylor, Jane, and McAinsh, Martin(May 2020) ROS Crosstalk in Signalling Pathways. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0025271]