Abiotic stress is severe environmental stress, which impairs crop production on irrigated land worldwide. Overall, the susceptibility or tolerance to the stress in plants is a coordinated action of multiple stress responsive genes, which also cross-talk with other components of stress signal transduction pathways. Plant responses to abiotic stress can be determined by the severity of the stress and by the metabolic status of the plant. Abscisic acid (ABA) is a phytohormone critical for plant growth and development and plays an important role in integrating various stress signals and controlling downstream stress responses. Plants have to adjust ABA levels constantly in responce to changing physiological and environmental conditions. To date, the mechanisms for fine-tuning of ABA levels remain elusive. The mechanisms by which plants respond to stress include both ABA-dependent and ABA-independent processes. Various transcription factors such as DREB2A/2B, AREB1, RD22BP1 and MYC/MYB are known to regulate the ABA-responsive gene expression through interacting with their corrosponding cis-acting elements such as DRE/CRT, ABRE and MYCRS/MYBRS, respectively. Understanding these mechanisms is important to improve stress tolerance in crops plants. This article first describes the general pathway for plant stress response followed by roles of ABA and transcription factors in stress tolerance including the regulation of ABA biosynthesis.
Keywords: ABA; ABA-responsive element; ABA-responsive genes; cis-acting elements; environmental stress; plant stress hormone; signal transduction; transcription factors.