Novel perspectives for the engineering of abiotic stress tolerance in plants

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2014 Apr;26:62-70. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2013.09.011. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


Adverse environmental conditions pose serious limitations to agricultural production. Classical biotechnological approaches towards increasing abiotic stress tolerance focus on boosting plant endogenous defence mechanisms. However, overexpression of regulatory elements or effectors is usually accompanied by growth handicap and yield penalties due to crosstalk between developmental and stress-response networks. Herein we offer an overview on novel strategies with the potential to overcome these limitations based on the engineering of regulatory systems involved in the fine-tuning of the plant response to environmental hardships, including post-translational modifications, small RNAs, epigenetic control of gene expression and hormonal networks. The development and application of plant synthetic biology tools and approaches will add new functionalities and perspectives to genetic engineering programs for enhancing abiotic stress tolerance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Carbohydrates
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Genetic Engineering*
  • Homeostasis
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plant Development
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics*
  • Sumoylation
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Ubiquitination


  • Antioxidants
  • Carbohydrates
  • MicroRNAs
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Reactive Oxygen Species