Fructan and its relationship to abiotic stress tolerance in plants

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2009 Jul;66(13):2007-23. doi: 10.1007/s00018-009-0002-x. Epub 2009 Mar 17.


Numerous studies have been published that attempted to correlate fructan concentrations with freezing and drought tolerance. Studies investigating the effect of fructan on liposomes indicated that a direct interaction between membranes and fructan was possible. This new area of research began to move fructan and its association with stress beyond mere correlation by confirming that fructan has the capacity to stabilize membranes during drying by inserting at least part of the polysaccharide into the lipid headgroup region of the membrane. This helps prevent leakage when water is removed from the system either during freezing or drought. When plants were transformed with the ability to synthesize fructan, a concomitant increase in drought and/or freezing tolerance was confirmed. These experiments indicate that besides an indirect effect of supplying tissues with hexose sugars, fructan has a direct protective effect that can be demonstrated by both model systems and genetic transformation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Droughts
  • Freezing
  • Fructans / chemistry
  • Fructans / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Liposomes / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Structure
  • Organisms, Genetically Modified
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological*


  • Fructans
  • Liposomes
  • Polysaccharides