Stress signaling I: The role of abscisic acid (ABA)

Christopher D. Rock, Yoichi Sakata, Ralph S. Quatrano

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This review concentrates on two aspects of how ABA is involved with the adaptation of plants to abiotic stress: (a) the perception of the stress and the resulting ABA response network of intermediates that transduce the signal to trigger gene expression, and (b) the control of ABA metabolism itself that governs the levels of ABA in cells and tissues. Given the importance of abiotic stresses in limiting crop yields, both of these control points, i.e., the ABA signaling pathways and ABA levels, are critical targets with potential for genetic engineering to enhance crop production and impact sustainable agriculture as global warming takes hold and further alters the environment. Increased knowledge of the details has revealed complex crosstalk between networks of multiple hormonal and stress response pathways, prompting the need for more systems level and comparative genomics approaches. Natural variation offers a means to identify genes responsible for quantitative trait locus (QTL) effects on stress adaptation in plants ( Such a catalogue of genetic variation would accelerate comparative genomics of signaling networks and the identification of QTL genes for ABA-mediated stress responses, providing insights into how plants have evolved their ABA networks to adapt to diverse natural environments. Future studies could use whole-genome transcriptome approaches and homologous recombination in the model basal plant Physcomitrella to dissect the complex networks involved in ABA-related stress pathways. Identification of ABA receptors has not been completely resolved at this time, but future emphasis and dedication to clarify this elusive signaling step for the last member of the big five hormones is essential for any future understanding of stress responses. Overall, we can expect strong experimental contributions to our continued understanding of the ABA response pathway and ABA metabolism in the next decade.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAbiotic Stress Adaptation in Plants
Subtitle of host publicationPhysiological, Molecular and Genomic Foundation
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages41
ISBN (Print)9789048131112
StatePublished - 2010


  • Abscisic acid metabolism
  • gene expression
  • hormone receptors
  • seed development
  • signal transduction
  • stomatal response
  • stress adaptation
  • systems biology


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