Sucrose is required for plant growth and development. The sugar status of plant cells is sensed by sensor proteins. The signal generated by signal transduction cascades, which could involve mitogen-activated protein kinases, protein phosphatases, Ca 2+ and calmodulins, results in appropriate gene expression. A variety of genes are either induced or repressed depending upon the status of soluble sugars. Abiotic stresses to plants result in major alterations in sugar status and hence affect the expression of various genes by down- and up-regulating their expression. Hexokinase-dependent and hexokinase-independent pathways are involved in sugar sensing. Sucrose also acts as a signal molecule as it affects the activity of a proton-sucrose symporter. The sucrose trans-porter acts as a sucrose sensor and is involved in phloem loading. Fructokinase may represent an additional sensor that bypasses hexokinase phosphorylation especially when sucrose synthase is dominant. Mutants isolated on the basis of response of germination and seedling growth to sugars and reporter-based screening protocols are being used to study the response of altered sugar status on gene expression. Common cis-acting elements in sugar signalling pathways have been identified. Transgenic plants with elevated levels of sugars/sugar alcohols like fructans, raffinose series oligosaccharides, trehalose and mannitol are tolerant to different stresses but have usually impaired growth. Efforts need to be made to have transgenic plants in which abiotic stress responsive genes are expressed only at the time of adverse environmental conditions instead of being constitutively synthesized.