Dehydrins as a group of late embryogenesis abundant II proteins represent important dehydration-inducible proteins whose accumulation is induced by developmental processes (embryo maturation) as well as by several abiotic stress factors (low temperatures, drought, salinity). In the review, an overview of studies aimed at investigation of dehydrin accumulation patterns at transcript and protein levels as well as their possible functions in common wheat (Triticum aestivum), durum wheat (T. durum), and barley (Hordeum vulgare) plants exposed to various abiotic stress factors (cold, frost, drought, salinity) is provided. Possible roles of dehydrin proteins in an acquisition and maintenance of an enhanced frost tolerance are analyzed in the context of plant developmental processes (vernalization). Quantitative and qualitative differences as well as post-translational modifications in accumulated dehydrin proteins between barley cultivars revealing differential tolerance to drought and salinity are also discussed. Current knowledge on dehydrin role in wheat and barley response to major dehydrative stresses is summarized and the major challenges in dehydrin research are outlined.
Keywords: abiotic stress; barley; dehydrin dynamics; proteins; transcripts; wheat.