Molecular Breeding

, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp 493-503

First online:

Transgenic approaches to increase dehydration-stress tolerance in plants

  • Shavindra BajajAffiliated withDepartment of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University
  • , Jayaprakash TargolliAffiliated withDepartment of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University
  • , Li-Fei LiuAffiliated withDepartment of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University
  • , Tuan-Hua David HoAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Washington University
  • , Ray WuAffiliated withDepartment of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University

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Plant productivity is strongly influenced by abiotic stress conditions induced by drought, high salt and low temperature. Plants respond to these conditions with an array of biochemical and physiological adaptations, at least some of which are the result of changes in gene expression. Transgenic approaches offer a powerful means of gaining valuable information to better understand the mechanisms governing stress tolerance. They also offer new opportunities to improve dehydration-stress tolerance in crops by incorporating a gene involved in stress protection into species that lack them. In this review, we discuss progress made towards understanding the molecular elements involved in dehydration-stress responses that have been used to improve salt or drought tolerance following several transgenic approaches. Further, we discuss various strategies being used to produce transgenic plants with increased tolerance to dehydration stress. These include the overproduction of enzymes responsible for biosynthesis of osmolytes, late-embryogenesis-abundant proteins and detoxification enzymes. At this time, there is a need for a careful appraisal of the genes to be selected and promoter elements to be used, because constitutive expression of these genes may not be desirable in all applications. In this context, the advantages and limitations of transgenic approaches currently being used are discussed together with the importance of using stress-inducible promoters and the introduction of multiple genes for the improvement of dehydration-stress tolerance.

dehydration stress detoxifying enzymes lea genes osmoprotectants regulatory genes transgenic approaches