Skip to main content

Nitric oxide, crosstalk with stress regulators and plant abiotic stress tolerance


Key message

Nitric oxide is a dynamic gaseous molecule involved in signalling, crosstalk with stress regulators, and plant abiotic-stress responses. It has great exploratory potentials for engineering abiotic stress tolerance in crops.


Nitric oxide (NO), a redox-active gaseous signalling molecule, though present uniformly through the eukaryotes, maintain its specificity in plants with respect to its formation, signalling, and functions. Its cellular concentrations are decisive for its function, as a signalling molecule at lower concentrations, but triggers nitro-oxidative stress and cellular damage when produced at higher concentrations. Besides, it also acts as a potent stress alleviator. Discovered in animals as neurotransmitter, NO has come a long way to being a stress radical and growth regulator in plants. As a key redox molecule, it exhibits several key cellular and molecular interactions including with reactive chemical species, hydrogen sulphide, and calcium. Apart from being a signalling molecule, it is emerging as a key player involved in regulations of plant growth, development and plant-environment interactions. It is involved in crosstalk with stress regulators and is thus pivotal in these stress regulatory mechanisms. NO is getting an unprecedented attention from research community, being investigated and explored for its multifaceted roles in plant abiotic stress tolerance. Through this review, we intend to present the current knowledge and updates on NO biosynthesis and signalling, crosstalk with stress regulators, and how biotechnological manipulations of NO pathway are leading towards developing transgenic crop plants that can withstand environmental stresses and climate change. The targets of various stress responsive miRNA signalling have also been discussed besides giving an account of current approaches used to characterise and detect the NO.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


Download references


XZ acknowledge the project supported by Scientific and Technological Research Programme of Chongqing Municipal Education Commission (Grant no. KJ1401204).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



XZ and VK contributed substantially to the conceptualization and designing of the review. SJ, SP, TK, JS drafted the text and final version, XZ and VK edited and approved the final version. All the authors contributed significantly, seen and approved the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Xianrong Zhou or Vinay Kumar.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Communicated by Aryadeep Roychoudhury.

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zhou, X., Joshi, S., Khare, T. et al. Nitric oxide, crosstalk with stress regulators and plant abiotic stress tolerance. Plant Cell Rep 40, 1395–1414 (2021).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Nitric oxide
  • Signalling molecule
  • Abiotic stress
  • Genetic engineering
  • Transcription factors
  • miRNA
  • Crosstalk