A number of unfavorable environmental factors can act singly or in concert to strongly impair plant growth and productivity; these include the suboptimal availability of nutrients, excessive or inadequate light, lack of oxygen, lack of water, high or low temperature, wind, and chemical pollution. These abiotic stress factors have a serious impact on plant crop productivity worldwide. It has been calculated that yield losses can amount up to 80% of the record yield due to abiotic stresses in major crop plants, depending on the species . Therefore, basic and applied research has been directed toward improved knowledge on stress defense responses and generation of plants with higher stress tolerance. Geneticists have screened for accessions of major crop species with improved stress tolerance [see reviews in reference 2]. Oxidative stress is a common feature associated with many stress factors. Biochemical and molecular analysis has elucidated enzymatic and nonenzymatic components coping with excess reactive oxygen species, such as SOD, APX, catalase and GR and LMW antioxidants such as ascorbate, tocopherol, carotenoids, or flavonoids [see reviews in reference 3].
Because drought and salinity are the most commonplace environmental limitations to plant productivity, a number of studies have addressed these factors, and we will start our chapter with a summary of related publications. Although under field conditions plants frequently have to cope with a combination of stresses, we will structure the review by summarizing work by single factors and then address commonalities in the responses toward different factors. We will also briefly summarize studies on transcript profiling of abiotic stress defense responses and compare the data obtained with the proteomics approaches.
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