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Vitamin C in Plants: From Functions to Biofortification

Department of Biology, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Via E. Orabona 4, 70125 Bari, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Antioxidants 2019, 8(11), 519;
Received: 2 October 2019 / Revised: 25 October 2019 / Accepted: 26 October 2019 / Published: 29 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phytochemical Antioxidants and Health)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: ascorbate; antioxidant; biofortification; light; plant growth; reactive oxygen species; vitamin C ascorbate; antioxidant; biofortification; light; plant growth; reactive oxygen species; vitamin C
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Paciolla, C.; Fortunato, S.; Dipierro, N.; Paradiso, A.; De Leonardis, S.; Mastropasqua, L.; de Pinto, M.C. Vitamin C in Plants: From Functions to Biofortification. Antioxidants 2019, 8, 519.

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