Vitamin E helps to control the cellular redox state by reacting with singlet oxygen and preventing the propagation of lipid peroxidation in thylakoid membranes. Both plant ageing and phosphorus deficiency can trigger accumulation of reactive oxygen species, leading to damage to the photosynthetic apparatus.
Simancas and Munné-Bosch investigate how P availability and vitamin E interact in the control of longevity in Arabidopsis thaliana, and find that plants tend to use vitamin E for a protective, anti-senescing role under moderate or high P levels, but vitamin E paradoxically reduces longevity under severe P starvation. Complex interactions are revealed between P availability, vitamin E and the potential to synthesize jasmonates, suggesting a trade-off between photoprotection and the activation of chemical defences in the plants.
This article appears in the special issue ROS and NO Reactions in Plants.