Atmospheric H2S: Impact on plant functioning

Ties Ausma, Luit J. De Kok

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Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is an air pollutant present at high levels in various regions. Plants actively take up H2S via the foliage, though the impact of the gas on the physiological functioning of plants is paradoxical. Whereas elevated H2S levels may be phytotoxic, H2S levels realistic for polluted areas can also significantly contribute to the sulfur requirement of the vegetation. Plants can even grow with H2S as sole sulfur source. There is no relation between the rate of H2S metabolism and the H2S susceptibility of a plant, which suggests that the metabolism of H2S does not contribute to the detoxification of absorbed sulfide. By contrast, there may be a strong relation between the rate of H2S metabolism and the rate of sulfate metabolism: foliar H2S absorbance may downregulate the metabolism of sulfate, taken up by the root. Studies with plants from the Brassica genus clarified the background of this downregulation. Simultaneously, these studies illustrated that H2S fumigation may be a useful tool for obtaining insight in the regulation of sulfur homeostasis and the (signal) functions of sulfur-containing compounds in plants.
Original languageEnglish
Article number743
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • air pollution
  • brassica
  • glutathione
  • hydrogen sulfide
  • sulfur metabolism


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