The ability of plants to respond to environmental stimuli is essential to plant survival. Abscisic acid (ABA) is a phytohormone with roles at various stages of plant development. ABA also plays a major role in mediating physiological responses to environmental stresses such as salt, osmotic, and cold stress. Plant responses to environmental stress have been widely studied in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and ABA signaling mechanisms elucidated. In general, the adaptive responses of plants to various stress conditions can be either ABA-dependent or ABA-independent. Here we focus on the role of ABA in stress signaling and abiotic stress tolerance. We describe the intrinsic mechanisms that confer stress tolerance via ABA, as well as how ABA-regulated gene products play a role in salt and drought tolerance at different stages of the life cycle. In addition, the contribution of ABA to regulation of stomatal aperture and therefore desiccation tolerance will be discussed. Understanding ABA signaling mechanisms in abiotic stress provides avenues for improving plant performance.
Part of the book: Abiotic and Biotic Stress in Plants