The diversity of substrates for plant respiration and how to optimize their use

Xuyen H. Le, A. Harvey Millar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)


Plant respiration is a foundational biological process with the potential to be optimized to improve crop yield. To understand and manipulate the outputs of respiration, the inputs of respiration-respiratory substrates-need to be probed in detail. Mitochondria house substrate catabolic pathways and respiratory machinery, so transport into and out of these organelles plays an important role in committing substrates to respiration. The large number of mitochondrial carriers and catabolic pathways that remain unidentified hinder this process and lead to confusion about the identity of direct and indirect respiratory substrates in plants. The sources and usage of respiratory substrates vary and are increasing found to be highly regulated based on cellular processes and environmental factors. This review covers the use of direct respiratory substrates following transport through mitochondrial carriers and catabolism under normal and stressed conditions. We suggest the introduction of enzymes not currently found in plant mitochondria to enable serine and acetate to be direct respiratory substrates in plants. We also compare respiratory substrates by assessing energetic yields, availability in cells, and their full or partial oxidation during cell catabolism. This information can assist in decisions to use synthetic biology approaches to alter the range of respiratory substrates in plants. As a result, respiration could be optimized by introducing, improving, or controlling specific mitochondrial transporters and mitochondrial catabolic pathways.

Plant oxidation of respiratory substrates is regulated by mitochondrial transport and metabolic processes; modifications may enable oxidation of alternative substrates and improve efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2133-2149
Number of pages17
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number4
Early online date27 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


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