Alpines are the exceptional regions of the world’s biomes. They have unique climatic and topographic conditions; they are the habitat of some of the highly specialized flora and fauna. The harsh environmental conditions and extreme fluctuations in them on a seasonal and diurnal basis created extremely stressful situations for the alpine plants. Such stress causes damage to biochemical structures and compounds of the plant cells leads to the production of free radicals, i.e. reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can further damage the plant cells or tissues. Alpine plants protect themselves from those ROS efficiently by their highly competent enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant system. In general, this protection increases in alpine plants with altitudes; however, some exceptions are also reported. Antioxidant compounds viz. ascorbic acid, tocopherol, glutathione, carotenoids found in alpine flora in higher concentrations as compared to low land plants. Phenolic compounds protected the alpine plants from UV induced ROS by screening the UV radiations and blocking their entries in the cell’s mesophyll. This higher antioxidant potential of the alpine plants is highly beneficial for the human being as most alpine plants are the sources of some life-saving drugs.
Part of the book: Antioxidants