Oxidative cell degradation

Ethane, malondialdehyde


Cell death

Expiration of gas exchange

| Fig. B. Time course of poisoning by a xenobiotic and useful diagnostic parameters. PAL, increase in activity of phenylalanine ammonium lyase. (After Kuhnert 1996)

ters (e.g. leaf-form and orientation in the space), are important in this respect, resulting in differences in uptake.

In crop production, toxicity of xenobiotics and of their metabolites for humans and animals as well as the development of resistance of the pest to the pesticide are very important. Resistances develop very quickly if the non-resistant population is completely eradicated. Resistance inheritance is usually recessive. The population quickly looses the dominant targeted gene, if only homozygous recessive organisms propagate.

In the following, the effects of non-metallic xenobiotics on plants and in particular the reactions of plants to these compounds are exempla-rily presented. Such reactions may be used for phytoremediation to clean and detoxify air, soil and water, an idea leading to the concept of the "green liver" (Sandermann 1994) in the sense that plants, in analogy to the livers of animals, are able to withdraw toxins (e.g. formaldehyde) from our environment and metabolise them to harmless substances.

The spectrum of xenobiotics is inexhaustible, but in contrast there are only few cellular mechanisms for detoxification. Most xenobiotics are lipophilic, and so diffuse easily into cells. They are also able to accumulate in biomembranes, decreasing their effectiveness and concomitantly the possibility of their metabolism.

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