Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 139, Issue 1–3, pp 67–79 | Cite as

Photorespiration is complemented by cyclic electron flow and the alternative oxidase pathway to optimize photosynthesis and protect against abiotic stress

  • Bobba Sunil
  • Deepak Saini
  • Ramesh B. Bapatla
  • Vetcha Aswani
  • Agepati S. RaghavendraEmail author


Optimization of photosynthetic performance and protection against abiotic stress are essential to sustain plant growth. Photorespiratory metabolism can help plants to adapt to abiotic stress. The beneficial role of photorespiration under abiotic stress is further strengthened by cyclic electron flow (CEF) and alternative oxidase (AOX) pathways. We have attempted to critically assess the literature on the responses of these three phenomena—photorespiration, CEF and AOX, to different stress situations. We emphasize that photorespiration is the key player to protect photosynthesis and upregulates CEF as well as AOX. Then these three processes work in coordination to protect the plants against photoinhibition and maintain an optimal redox state in the cell, while providing ATP for metabolism and protein repair. H2O2 generated during photorespiratory metabolism seems to be an important signal to upregulate CEF or AOX. Further experiments are necessary to identify the signals originating from CEF or AOX to modulate photorespiration. The mutants deficient in CEF or AOX or both could be useful in this regard. The mutual interactions between CEF and AOX, so as to keep their complementarity, are also to be examined further.


Alternative oxidase Chloroplasts Glycine decarboxylase Photoinhibition Reactive oxygen species Redox homeostasis 



This work was supported by grants to ASR from Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB No. EMR/2017/005171) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (No. 38(1404)/15/EMR-II). DS supported by research fellowship from Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. RBB and VA were supported by research fellowships from University Grants Commission, New Delhi, India. We also thank grants from DST-FIST, UGC-SAP-CAS and DBT-CREBB, from New Delhi, India for support of infrastructure in Department/School.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Bobba Sunil
    • 1
  • Deepak Saini
    • 1
  • Ramesh B. Bapatla
    • 1
  • Vetcha Aswani
    • 1
  • Agepati S. Raghavendra
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Plant Sciences, School of Life SciencesUniversity of HyderabadHyderabadIndia

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