The traditional use of polyols as osmotica in plant culture media is based on the assumption that polyols are not taken up or metabolized by cells. In reality, polyols are significant photosynthetic products and efficiently utilized metabolites in a large number of plants. In addition to these metabolic roles, initial interest in polyols focused primarily on their function as osmoprotectants. This was hypothesized to be due to their ability to act as compatible solutes. More recent research, however, indicates much broader roles for polyols in stress responses based on their significant antioxidant capacity. These include protection against salt and photooxidative stress as well as a potential role in plant pathogen interactions.
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