Biotechnological Perspectives

To improve crop productivity, it is necessary to understand the mechanisms of plant responses to environmental changes with the ultimate goal being the increase of food availability. There are concerns about our ability to increase, or even maintain, crop yield and production in the context of global environmental change and its associated abiotic stresses (Tester and Langridge 2010). Furthermore, the current increment in biofuels production adds more doubts about our capacity to produce enough food.

The correlation between the increased frequency of extreme environmental events and global warming, underlie an urgent need for protective measures including the development and introduction of new crop cultivars with enhanced tolerance to environmental stresses (Etterson and Shaw 2001 ; Mittler 2006). Different strategies could be carried out for this purpose, and each of them will present certain advantages and inconveniences that need to be taken into consideration. Two of these strategies, natural variability exploitation and genetic engineering, that could be used for the improvement of the K+ uptake systems in plant roots, will be discussed below.

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