Persistently sub-optimal environmental conditions constitute stress. Perception and signaling lead to protein expression changes, the activation of new biochemical pathways, and repression of others which are characteristic of the unstressed state. Protective metabolic adaptations alter physiological reactions of the whole plant. Paramount among the mechanisms are oxygen radical scavenging, maintenance of ion uptake and water balance, and reactions altering carbon and nitrogen allocation, such that reducing power is defused. Elements of the stress signaling pathways and proteins that lead to stress protection have recently become known.