Molecular genetic perspectives on cross-talk and specificity in abiotic stress signalling in plants

Viswanathan Chinnusamy, Karen Schumaker, Jian Kang Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

911 Scopus citations


The perception of abiotic stresses and signal transduction to switch on adaptive responses are critical steps in determining the survival and reproduction of plants exposed to adverse environments. Plants have stress-specific adaptive responses as well as responses which protect the plants from more than one environmental stress. There are multiple stress perception and signalling pathways, some of which are specific, but others may cross-talk at various steps. Recently, progress has been made in identifying components of signalling pathways involved in salt, drought and cold stresses. Genetic analysis has defined the Salt-Overly-Sensitive (SOS) pathway, in which a salt stress-induced calcium signal is probably sensed by the calcium-binding protein SOS3 which then activates the protein kinase SOS2. The SOS3-SOS2 kinase complex regulates the expression and activity of ion transporters such as SOS1 to reestablish cellular ionic homeostasis under salinity. The ICE1 (Inducer of CBF Expression 1)-CBF (C-Repeat Binding Protein) pathway is critical for the regulation of the cold-responsive transcriptome and acquired freezing tolerance, although at present the signalling events that activate the ICE1 transcription factor during cold stress are not known. Both ABA-dependent and -independent signalling pathways appear to be involved in osmotic stress tolerance. Components of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades may act as converging points of multiple abiotic as well as biotic stress signalling pathways. Forward and reverse genetic analysis in combination with expression profiling will continue to uncover many signalling components, and biochemical characterization of the signalling complexes will be required to determine specificity and cross-talk in abiotic stress signalling pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-236
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number395
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • Abiotic stress
  • Adaptive response
  • Expression profiling
  • Genetic analysis
  • Signal transduction
  • Stress perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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