Interactions between cytokinin signalling and abiotic stress responses

J Exp Bot. 2015 Aug;66(16):4863-71. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erv172. Epub 2015 Apr 23.


Plants have evolved elaborate mechanisms for sensing and responding to sub-optimal environmental conditions. Abiotic stresses caused by these conditions trigger a wide range of local and long-distance signals which must be co-ordinated and integrated into whole-plant processes, such as development, in order for the plant to respond properly and survive. Several hormones function as key regulators of stress tolerance, connecting local stimuli to systemic responses. Cytokinin is a hormone well known for its role in numerous aspects of growth and development, although abundant evidence also indicates that cytokinin functions in stress responses as well. At present, a full understanding of the effects of cytokinin on plant resistance to stress is lacking, possibly as a result of the complex interactions between cytokinin and stress signalling. Current knowledge of the physiological relationship between cytokinin and abiotic stress, based on measurements of cytokinin levels under stress conditions and the effects of cytokinin treatment on stress tolerance, has been examined here. A pattern of transcriptional regulation of stress-related genes by cytokinin in different plant species has also been identified. In addition, research regarding the role of specific cytokinin signalling components in a variety of stress responses is presented. We discuss what this body of research collectively implies with regard to cross-talk between cytokinin and abiotic stress tolerance.

Keywords: Abiotic stress; cytokinin; hormones; signal transduction; stress tolerance; transcription factor..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytokinins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Stress, Physiological*


  • Cytokinins