Diverse mechanisms of plant adaptation to abiotic or biotic stress
Unlike animals, plants cannot escape from deleterious environmental factors, such as pathogenic microbes, insect pests, nutrient deficiency, extreme temperatures, salinity and drought. To survive, plants have evolved diverse strategies to counteract unfavorable conditions at molecular, physiological and biochemical levels. Recently, combination of abiotic and biotic stress has been shown to increase plant performance by enhancing the resistance to biotic stress. Signaling crosstalk between abiotic and biotic stress responses may be synergistic and/or antagonistic, involving phytohormones, transcription factors and reactive oxygen species. Importantly, mounting evidence has also indicated that interactions between plants and microbes play a key role in helping plants develop resilience and tolerate adverse effects imposed by abiotic or biotic stresses. Plant–microbe interactions include diverse associations from pathogenic to commensal and mutualistic coexistences. The exploration of these issues will help not only understand stress adaptive mechanisms in plants, but also develop more effective crop protection strategies and sustainable agricultural systems. This special issue aims at addressing recent advances and challenges in plant adaptation to changing environments as well as plant–microbe interactions.
Prof. Dr. Jianfei Wang and Dr. Cheng Zhou
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Title: Leaf phenotypic plasticity of barley under prolonged drought: Different cell properties linked to different acclimation strategies
Authors: Bresta P., Kehagia B., Mniestri A., Patsis G., Tourlou V., Nikolopoulos D., Charalampopoulos I., Vahamidis P., Economou G., Aivalakis G., Karabourniotis G.
Abstract: Long-term acclimation to drought is critical for plant growth and survival. It relies on developmental reprogramming and leads to readjustment of the structure-function coordination. This drought-induced phenotype is the result of multi-level plastic responses including morpho-anatomical and physiological modulations in leaves. However, the acclimation ability and the degree of plasticity is genotype-specific. Given the significance of phenotypic plasticity on drought tolerance, the present study examined the long-term acclimation responses under prolonged moderate drought in two malt barley genotypes (Zhana and Grace) integrating leaf structural and physiological responses from subcellular to organ level. We measured cell size and cell wall thickness of all leaf tissues, as well as stomatal properties, gas exchange performance and free proline accumulation (Pr). According to the results, the degree of plasticity was not only genotype specific as expected, but also tissue specific. Compared to Grace, in Zhana with overall larger cells and significantly wider xylem vessels, leaf development under drought conditions led to a significant decrease in the cell size of the photosynthetic, sclerenchymatic and vascular tissues especially in xylem vessels. These modulations resulted to smaller, denser leaves with higher stomatal density but also with increased intrinsic water use efficiency (WUEi) while maintaining a high photosynthetic performance. On the contrary, Grace that was characterized by smaller cells and thicker sclerenchymatic cell walls exhibited low structural plasticity yet significant physiological adjustments such as an increased accumulation of Pr and increased WUEi but at the expense of photosynthetic capacity due to reduced stomatal conductance. In conclusion, the two genotypes followed a different acclimation strategy but this diversification seems to be linked to the inherent capacity for cell size adjustment and its implications on the adaptivity of the modified structure-function coordination.
Keywords: Barley; Cell Size; Drought; Leaf; Long-term Acclimation; Photosynthesis; Xylem