Polyamines and abiotic stress tolerance in plants

Plant Signal Behav. 2010 Jan;5(1):26-33. doi: 10.4161/psb.5.1.10291.


Environmental stresses including climate change, especially global warming, are severely affecting plant growth and productivity worldwide. It has been estimated that two-thirds of the yield potential of major crops are routinely lost due to the unfavorable environmental factors. On the other hand, the world population is estimated to reach about 10 billion by 2050, which will witness serious food shortages. Therefore, crops with enhanced vigour and high tolerance to various environmental factors should be developed to feed the increasing world population. Maintaining crop yields under adverse environmental stresses is probably the major challenge facing modern agriculture where polyamines can play important role. Polyamines (PAs)(putrescine, spermidine and spermine) are group of phytohormone-like aliphatic amine natural compounds with aliphatic nitrogen structure and present in almost all living organisms including plants. Evidences showed that polyamines are involved in many physiological processes, such as cell growth and development and respond to stress tolerance to various environmental factors. In many cases the relationship of plant stress tolerance was noted with the production of conjugated and bound polyamines as well as stimulation of polyamine oxidation. Therefore, genetic manipulation of crop plants with genes encoding enzymes of polyamine biosynthetic pathways may provide better stress tolerance to crop plants. Furthermore, the exogenous application of PAs is also another option for increasing the stress tolerance potential in plants. Here, we have described the synthesis and role of various polyamines in abiotic stress tolerance in plants.

Keywords: abiotic stress tolerance; polyamines; putrescine; spermidine; spermine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization*
  • Climate Change
  • Crops, Agricultural* / drug effects
  • Crops, Agricultural* / genetics
  • Crops, Agricultural* / physiology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Polyamines / metabolism*
  • Polyamines / pharmacology
  • Stress, Physiological*


  • Polyamines