In a recent review, the state of the art knowledge of regulatory networks in abiotic stress response in plants was highlighted (Urano et al. 2010). It has been shown how transcriptomics, metabolomics and proteomics have all provided a large number of data useful to explain how plants adapt to stress through cellular, physiological and molecular mechanisms. The literature on metal tolerance and accumulation in plants, which has been reviewed here, shows how our knowledge has progressed taking advantage of many approaches. However, some aspects have not yet been fully addressed in relation to metal stress and response of the plants. One example is the lack of detailed description of the structure and of the regulation of promoter sequences from the genes identified as differentially induced. Other features which might become relevant are the synthesis of small RNAs (miRNAs) with impacts on transcriptional regulation, and the existence of post-translational processing of proteins. A feature that will deserve more attention is certainly the role of duplication of gene sequences in tolerant and accumulator plants, an interesting phenomenon which could help to explain the evolution of these phenotypes.
Acknowledgments We thank the authors of papers and reviews cited in the chapter, and apologise to the authors who have not been cited due to space constraints. We acknowledge financial support by PRIN contracts (Italian Ministry of University). We thank Prof. Nelson Marmiroli for critical reading of the manuscript and helpful suggestions.
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