J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2008, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (10): 1185-1186.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2008.00774.x

Special Issue: Plant Signal Transduction

• Editorial •     Next Articles

Understanding Abiotic Stresses and the Solution

Qi Xie and Zhizhong Gong   

  • Published:2008-10-05

Abstract: The abilities to perceive internal and external signals and to adapt to different environmental conditions are hallmarks of all living organisms. Understanding this information flow between organisms and their environment remains a hot topic in life sciences. Plants are an integral part of our ecosystem. A major challenge in plant biology is the uncovering of the developmental process from a single cell into a mature plant. Some aspects of plant development are entirely genetically programmed, but most are influenced by the environment, allowing plants to adapt to prevailing conditions. The molecular mechanisms of signal transduction pathways in higher plant are essential to vital processes such as hormone and light perception, plant and environment recognition and interaction. Stress biology is one of the most important branch of plant molecular biology, due to accelerated global warming, increased concentration of CO2 in air, accumulation of salts in soils, and water deficient all around the world. All those un-favorite factors greatly affect agricultures and lead the problem of food safety. State orientated, increased academic interests and so as increased involvement of private companies greatly push the quick development of abiotic stress biology. In addition, Arabidopsis thaliana used as a model plant and application of state-of-art technologies promote the fast development of stress biology. This could be seen from the most cited plant scientist around the world for 1997–2007, according to a survey by http://ScienceWatch.com, an open Web resource for science metrics and analysis. Dr. Kazuo Shinozaki, from RIKEN Plant Science Center, Japan, was ranked as the top cited plant scientist. In addition, two other scientists, Dr. Jiankang Zhu from University of California, Riverside and Dr. Kazuko Yamaguchi-Shinozaki, from Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences, Tsukuba, and University of Tokyo, were ranked as No.4 and No.8 in the list of most cited plant scientist list. Those data indicate not only the importance but also the large volume of research community of stress biology. In this special issue, 10 invited reviews resumed the latest developments in different aspects of stress biology. In addition, five research papers also described the novel finding in this related field. Most of the review articles are based on author's own works and the most recent developments in the field. For the past several years Epigenetic has turned to be an important and quickly developed research topic in life sciences. In plant Epigenetic control has been revealed to be an important regulation of plant growth and plant-environment interaction. Chinnusamy et al. resumed the novel findings on ABA regulated epigenetic may act through affecting histone modification, such as monoubiquitination and histone deacetylation. And in addition, they also proposed that ABA probably regulate abiotic stress response through DNA methylation and siRNA pathways. The occurrence of trehalose and trehalose biosynthesis pathway in plants has been discovered recently. Iordachescu et al. resumed the importance of trehalose biosynthesis in stress response. The concentration of metallic elements in soil could either the resource of nutrient or toxicity. Phosphorus (P) is one of the most important elements for plant growth and crop production. Whether the transcription regulation of genes in P-signal transduction pathway can correlate to the morphological and physiological adaptations evolved by plants to cope with P starvation has been reviewed by analyzing the current knowledge of transcriptional regulation of P starvation responses in Arabidopsis vis-à-vis legumes. No metallic element, Boron (B) is essential for plant development. The amount of B in soil could be either the favorite effecter or source of toxicity. An update on recent findings related to the molecular basis of B deficiency and toxicity responses in plants is presented by Camacho et al. Same as no metallic elements, most of metals are essential for plant growth but high concentration of metals in soil could be also toxicity stress sources. Toxic heavy metals are normally present as soil constituents or can also be spread out in the environment by human activity and agricultural techniques to produce heavy metal stress. Cadmium (Cd) stress response and how to be prevented are resumed by DalCorso et al. Overexpression of a Myb transcription factor from Malus xiaojinensis in Arabidopsis leads to down expression of two Fe-related genes encoding an iron transporter AtIRT1 and an iron storage protein ferritin AtFER1. It has been proposed MxMYB1 has a potential role in iron nutrition stress response (Jie et al.). High salt imposes negative impacts on the growth, nodulation, agronomy traits, seed quality and quantity of plants. With the knowledge learned from Arabidopsis, Phang et al. summarized the relevant works at molecular level on salt stress responses in soybean. The Brassicaceae family halophyte Thellungiella halophila has high salinity tolerant capacity and serves as a valuable halophytic genetic model plant with experimental convenience similar to A. thaliana. Zhang et al. presented the competitive analysis of potential salt tolerance genes in Thellungiella. These results provide a broader coverage of Thellungiella transcriptome and may help to identify salt tolerance related genes. Light, gas and heat can greatly affect plant photosynthesis and water evaporation, thus they are important factors controlling plant growth and developmental processes. Nau et al. reported the systemic response of chloroplast movement to local high light or burning stress in tobacco plants. It is very important to know the quantitative physiological changes of plant under drought condition. Li et al. described the interactive effects of drought stresses and elevated CO2 concentration on photochemistry efficiency by measuring the chlorophyll content, and the Imaging-PAM was used to image the chlorophyll fluorescence parameters and rapid light response curves (RLC) of leaves. Temperature changes out of scope are used to bring harmful effects to plants. Heat stress, a major abiotic stress is always accompanied with burning and drought stresses. Huang and Xu provided an overview of recent research on proteomic profiling for the identification of heat-responsive proteins associated with heat tolerance, heat induction and characteristics of HSPs, and protein degradation in relation to plant responses to heat stress. Drought stress affects not only plant growth and development but also the quality of seed harvest. Due to improper growth plants reduced tolerance to plant pathogens and those microbes could be the dangerous resources of seed contamination. Proteomic comparisons of corn kernel proteins between resistant or susceptible genotypes to A. flavus infection have identified stress-related proteins along with antifungal proteins as associated with kernel resistance (Guo et al.). Because global industrial greatly affects ozone concentration in air, ozone stress has become much more severe in the last decade. Ludwikow et al. summarized the recent progress in the transcriptomics of ozone stress response by microarray analyses identifying gene networks responsible for response and tolerance to elevated ozone concentration. The cross talk between abiotic and biotic stress could be linked by nitric oxide (NO). NO can provoke both beneficial and harmful effects in plants. Qiao and Fan summarized the NO signaling and reactive oxygen species (ROS) regulate the expression of stress responsive genes under various stress conditions. Due et al. reported the comprehensive functional analysis of catalase gene family in A. thaliana and their roles in controlling ROS homeostasis upon different stresses.

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