Plant hormones are signalling compounds that regulate crucial aspects of growth, development and environmental stress responses. Abiotic stresses, such as drought, salinity, heat, cold and flooding, have profound effects on plant growth and survival. Adaptation and tolerance to such stresses require sophisticated sensing, signalling and stress response mechanisms. In this Review, we discuss recent advances in understanding how diverse plant hormones control abiotic stress responses in plants and highlight points of hormonal crosstalk during abiotic stress signalling. Control mechanisms and stress responses mediated by plant hormones including abscisic acid, auxin, brassinosteroids, cytokinins, ethylene and gibberellins are discussed. We discuss new insights into osmotic stress sensing and signalling mechanisms, hormonal control of gene regulation and plant development during stress, hormone-regulated submergence tolerance and stomatal movements. We further explore how innovative imaging approaches are providing insights into single-cell and tissue hormone dynamics. Understanding stress tolerance mechanisms opens new opportunities for agricultural applications.
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The authors apologize to those authors whose research they have not cited due to limitations on the number of references. Research in the authors’ laboratories was supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Health to J.I.S. (GM060396-ES010337) and to C.A.S. (F32GM137544), the National Science Foundation to J.I.S. (MCB-1900567) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to S.M. (18K05557 and 18KK0425).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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- Abiotic stresses
Environmental stresses that are associated with the non-living environment, such as weather conditions or the quality of the soil in which plants grow.
Plant-derived compounds that function as plant growth regulators either locally or over long distances and at low (submicromolar) concentrations.
- Osmotic stress
A sudden change in the ambient solute concentration resulting in the water potential difference between cells and environments effects the tendency of water movement across cell membranes. Hypo-osmotic stress leads to water influx into cells, whereas hyper-osmotic stress leads to water efflux from cells.
Small pores in the leaf epidermis that are formed by guard cells to allow the uptake of CO2 for photosynthesis in exchange for water loss.
- Mechanosensitive ion channels
Ion channels that respond to mechanical forces, for example, induced by membrane tension.
- mRNA decapping
The removal of the 5′ methylguanosine cap, a key step in the regulated degradation of mRNAs.
- Seed dormancy
A state in which seed germination is inhibited. ABA signalling promotes seed dormancy, while gibberellin signalling can repress it.
The directional growth of roots towards regions of the soil environment with higher water content.
The directional growth of roots away from regions of high salinity.
A vascular tissue that conveys water and nutrients from roots to stems and leaves.
A water-responsive root developmental programme active when water is asymmetrically available around the circumference of the root. Lateral roots preferentially form on the water-contacting side.
A water-responsive root developmental programme where the formation of lateral roots is repressed in regions of the soil environment that lack water.
- Pericycle cells
A layer of cells that encircle the vascular tissue.
- Drought escape
An adaptive response to prolonged drought stress where plants accelerate the transition to flowering in order to reproduce.
- Deepwater rice
Varieties of rice (Oryza sativa) that avoid submergence stress by activating stem and leaf elongation to rise above the water surface. This developmental programme depends on the hormones ethylene and gibberellin.
Changes in the cell membrane potential making it more positive.
Changes in the cell membrane potential making it more negative.
- Genetically encoded phytohormone indicators
Indicators that allow the in vivo monitoring of hormone levels and downstream hormone signalling responses.
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Waadt, R., Seller, C.A., Hsu, PK. et al. Plant hormone regulation of abiotic stress responses. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 23, 680–694 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41580-022-00479-6
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