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Concepts in plant stress physiology. Application to plant tissue cultures


Concepts in plant stress physiology. Application to plant tissue cultures



Plant Growth Regulation 37(3): 263-285



ISSN/ISBN: 0167-6903

DOI: 10.1023/a:1020835304842

Because the term stress is used, most often subjectively, with various meanings, this paper first attempts to clarify the physiological definition, and the appropriate terms as responses in different situations. The flexibility of normal metabolism allows the development of responses to environmental changes which fluctuate regularly and predictably over daily and seasonal cycles. Thus every deviation of a factor from its optimum does not necessarily result in stress. Stress begins with a constraint or with highly unpredictable fluctuations imposed on regular metabolic patterns that cause bodily injury, disease, or aberrant physiology. Stress is the altered physiological condition caused by factors that tend to alter an equilibrium. Strain is any physical and/or chemical change produced by a stress, i.e. every established condition, which forces a system away from its thermodynamic optimal state. The paper secondly summarises the Strasser's state-change concept which is precisely that suboptimality is the driving force for acclimation (genotype level) or adaptation (population level) to stress. The paper continues with the actual knowledge on the mechanisms of stress recognition and cell signalling. Briefly: plasma membranes are the sensors of environmental changes; phytohormones and second messengers are the transducers of information from membranes to metabolism; carbon balance is the master integrator of plant response; betwixt and between, some genes are expressed more strongly, whereas others are repressed. Reactive oxygen species play key roles in up- and down-regulation of metabolism and structure. The paper shows finally that the above concepts can be applied to plant tissue cultures where the accumulating physiological and genetical deviations (from a normal plant behaviour) are related to the stressing conditions of the in vitro culture media and of theconfined environment. The hyperhydrated state of shoots and the cancerous state of cells, both induced under conditions of stress in in vitro cultures, are identified and detailed, because they perfectly illustrate the stress-induced state-change concept. It is concluded that stress responses include either pathologies or adaptive advantages. Stress may thus contain both destructive and constructive elements : it is a selection factor as well as a driving force for improved resistance and adaptive evolution.

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