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BIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS OF ANTIOXIDANTS ASSOCIATED WITH OXYGENIC PHOTOSYNTHESIS
Antioxidants are present in all aerobic cells. They have generated much scientific interest because of their potential value as remedies for human diseases and as tools for improving the stress tolerance of agricultural plants. Attempts to improve stress tolerance of plants by genetic modification of antioxidants have had mixed success, however. It has become clear that a more detailed, mechanistic knowledge of how antioxidants work in living plant cells is needed to understand their adaptive value in nature and to make effective use of them in medicine and agriculture. Our project addresses this need. This project will begin a detailed analysis of how the most common antioxidant enzymes protect specific components of photosynthetic cells as the cells experience oxidative stress, which occurs in crops during periods of drought and cold. This knowledge of what they do in live cells will allow genes for the antioxidants to be used more effectively in genetic modification for greater stress tolerance in agricultural plants.