Decoding systems biology of plant stress for sustainable agriculture development and optimized food production

Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2019 Aug;145:19-39. doi: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2018.12.002. Epub 2018 Dec 15.


Plants are essential facilitators of human life on planet earth. Plants play a critical functional role in mediating the quality of air, availability of food and the sustainability of agricultural resources. However, plants are in constant interaction with its environment and often hampered by various types of stresses like biotic and abiotic ones. Biotic stress is a significant reason for crop-loss and causes yield loss in the range of 31-42%, post-harvest loss due to biotic stress is in the range of 6-20%, and abiotic stress causes 6-20% of the crop damage. Recognizing the molecular factors driving plant stress-related events, and developing molecular strategies to aid plants to tolerate, resist or adapt to biotic and abiotic stress are critical for sustainable agriculture practice. In this review, we discuss how recent advances in bioinformatics, plant genomics, and data science could help to improve our understanding of plant stress biology and improve the scale of global food production. We present various areas of scientific and technological advances, such as increased availability of genomics data through whole genome sequencing that require attention. We also discuss emerging techniques including CRISPR-Cas9 based genome engineering systems to develop plant varieties that can handle combinatorial stress signals. Growing trend of converging multiple omics technologies and availability of accurate, multi-scale models of plant stress through the study of orthologs and synteny studies, would improve our knowledge of how plants perceive, respond, and manage stress to thrive as resilient crop species and thus help to reduce global food crisis.

Keywords: Digital farming; Food security; Plant bioinformatics; Plant biology; Plant genomics; Plant stress; Precision agriculture; Systems biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Food Supply
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Genome, Plant
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / genetics
  • Models, Biological*
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological*
  • Systems Biology