Vitamin C (l
-ascorbic acid) is an excellent free radical scavenger, not only for its capability to donate reducing equivalents but also for the relative stability of the derived monodehydroascorbate radical. However, vitamin C is not only an antioxidant, since it is also a cofactor for numerous enzymes involved in plant and human metabolism. In humans, vitamin C takes part in various physiological processes, such as iron absorption, collagen synthesis, immune stimulation, and epigenetic regulation. Due to the functional loss of the gene coding for l
-gulonolactone oxidase, humans cannot synthesize vitamin C; thus, they principally utilize plant-based foods for their needs. For this reason, increasing the vitamin C content of crops could have helpful effects on human health. To achieve this objective, exhaustive knowledge of the metabolism and functions of vitamin C in plants is needed. In this review, the multiple roles of vitamin C in plant physiology as well as the regulation of its content, through biosynthetic or recycling pathways, are analyzed. Finally, attention is paid to the strategies that have been used to increase the content of vitamin C in crops, emphasizing not only the improvement of nutritional value of the crops but also the acquisition of plant stress resistance.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited