Biochemistry, Department of



Rebecca L. Roston

Date of this Version



Phytochem Rev (2023) 22:407–447


Copyright © The Author(s) 2023


Plant growth and resilience require balancing an inherently oxidative metabolism with powerful antioxidant systems that help maintain homeostasis. When the environment changes, reactive oxygen species are potent indicators of that change, allowing adaptation through re-balancing metabolism and antioxidant systems. A large body of evidence supports the use of exogenously applied antioxidants to improve both plant growth and their resilience to stress. Notably, some phenotypic effects are similar upon the application of chemically diverse antioxidants, while others are distinct. In this review, we analyze research from antioxidant treatment experiments and highlight the similarities in their practical applications and their effects on plant stress tolerance, photosynthesis, native antioxidant systems, and phytohormones.We also briefly cover the specific effects of individually applied antioxidants and what is known about their potential modes of action. Given the strong potential of antioxidant applications, we discuss research needed to promote their agricultural use. Finally, we identify outstanding questions about how the exogenous application of antioxidants mechanistically affects plant growth.