Freezing, dehydration, salinity variations, hypoxia or anoxia are some of the environmental constraints that many organisms must frequently endure. Organisms adapted to these stressors often reduce their metabolic rates to maximize their chances of survival. However, upon recovery of environmental conditions and basal metabolic rates, cells are affected by an oxidative burst that, if uncontrolled, leads to (oxidative) cell damage and eventually death. Thus, a number of adapted organisms are able to increase their antioxidant defenses during an environmental/functional hypoxic transgression; a strategy that was interpreted in the 1990s as a “preparation for oxidative stress” (POS). Since that time, POS mechanisms have been identified in at least 83 animal species representing different phyla including Cnidaria, Nematoda, Annelida, Tardigrada, Echinodermata, Arthropoda, Mollusca and Chordata. Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the postulation of the POS hypothesis, we compiled this review where we analyze a selection of examples of species showing POS-mechanisms and review the most recent advances in understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms behind those strategies that allow animals to survive in harsh environments.

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Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Department of Biology

Giraud-Billoud, M. (Maximiliano), Rivera-Ingraham, G.A. (Georgina A.), Moreira, D.C. (Daniel C.), Burmester, T. (Thorsten), Castro-Vazquez, A. (Alfredo), Carvajalino-Fernández, J.M. (Juan M.), … Hermes-Lima, M. (Marcelo). (2019). Twenty years of the ‘Preparation for Oxidative Stress’ (POS) theory: Ecophysiological advantages and molecular strategies. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology (Vol. 234, pp. 36–49). doi:10.1016/j.cbpa.2019.04.004