Plant Responses to Biotic and Abiotic Stresses: From Cellular to Morphological Changes—Series II

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant-Crop Biology and Biochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 April 2024 | Viewed by 8182

Special Issue Editors

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In times of climate change, agricultural production systems are exposed to changing environmental conditions. With 7.27 billion inhabitants to date, the world population is projected to reach 9.1 billion people by 2050. Over the coming decades, global agriculture will face multiple challenges since the demand for food continues to grow rapidly with the same trend. In addition to an increase in food production, we need to significantly improve the resilience of food production to face detrimental environmental impacts, including biotic and abiotic stresses.  

During their lifecycle, plants have to cope with many abiotic and biotic stresses, each affecting their development or growth. Among these stresses, biotic stress (caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, nematodes, insects …) and abiotic stress (such as flooding, cold, heat, salinity, or drought) can be distinguished. However, being sessile in nature, plants cannot escape from these stress, and instead adapt transcriptional, molecular, physiological, and morphological changes within their system to overcome the adverse conditions.

Therefore, understanding plant responses to these stresses implies a deep description of the mechanisms that operate at the physiological and molecular levels, which include complex transduction pathways, from signal perception to physiological responses. For this research topic, we welcome reviews, perspective, original research, opinions, and methods to underline the latest exciting progress on the understanding of systems biology and the molecular, physiological, and biochemical responses of plants to abiotic and biotic stresses. Some of the potential themes of this topic include but are not limited to:

  • Effect of climate change elements on plant fitness;
  • Crops performances under biotic and abiotic stress;
  • Biotic and abiotic stresses physiology and management;
  • Signaling transduction pathways and networks, from signal perception to physiological responses;
  • Plant acclimation mechanisms;
  • Plant defense activators and biostimulants to cope with biotic and abiotic stresses.

Prof. Dr. Essaid Ait Barka
Prof. Dr. Rachid Lahlali
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • biotic stress
  • abiotic stress
  • plant acclimation
  • plant defense mechanisms

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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19 pages, 5745 KiB  
Article
Effects of Cd Stress on Morphological and Physiological Characteristics of Maize Seedlings
Agronomy 2024, 14(2), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14020379 - 16 Feb 2024
Viewed by 348
Abstract
Heavy metal (HM) contamination poses a serious threat to safe crop production and human health, and different maize inbred lines respond differently to cadmium (Cd) stress. However, the morphological and physiological characteristics of maize inbred lines seedlings are not clear under Cd stress. [...] Read more.
Heavy metal (HM) contamination poses a serious threat to safe crop production and human health, and different maize inbred lines respond differently to cadmium (Cd) stress. However, the morphological and physiological characteristics of maize inbred lines seedlings are not clear under Cd stress. In this study, we analyzed the agronomic traits and physiological and biochemical indices of inbred maize seedlings under Cd stress in the seedling stage using the inbred lines Kui3, CML118, Mo17, B73, and B77 as the materials. These five inbred maizes were treated with five different concentrations of Cd (0, 1, 3, 5, and 7 mg L−1, respectively) were applied and the indices of the maize seedlings determined on day 15. The aboveground and belowground biomass of five maize inbred lines seedlings showed a decreasing trend under Cd stress. Leaf relative water content and SPAD values also decreased, but the overall decrease in relative water content was small, and the differences were not significant. Surprisingly, Cd stress affected the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), and catalase (CAT), leading to enhanced mem-brane lipid peroxidation. The cadmium content varied greatly between varieties under Cd stress, but all of them had lower Cd content above ground than below ground, and the varieties with the highest and lowest transfer coefficients were Mo17 (0.33–0.83) and B73 (0.06–0.44), respectively. Kui3 had the greatest difference in soluble protein content under Cd stress, which showed a de-creasing trend, and the soluble sugar content was significantly decreased in general compared to that of CK. The soluble sugar content was higher than CK under Cd treatment, and the proline content of the maize seedlings of all of the inbred lines showed an increasing trend compared to CK. Overall, there were significant genotypic differences in the Cd stress response to Cd toxicity in the maize inbred lines seedlings, and, in general, this study helps us to understand the mechanism of maize inbred lines seedlings response to Cd stress. It provides a theoretical basis for the se-lection and breeding of varieties, and food safety. Full article
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15 pages, 6097 KiB  
Article
Construction and Identification of Cold Tolerance in Different Broccoli Cultivars at the Seedling Stage
Agronomy 2024, 14(2), 237; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy14020237 - 23 Jan 2024
Viewed by 448
Abstract
This study aimed to develop a systematic method for assessing the cold tolerance of broccoli seedlings, which is helpful to evaluating the cold tolerance of broccoli cultivars. We selected 14 classical broccoli cultivars and evaluated their cold tolerance by examining physiological indicators including [...] Read more.
This study aimed to develop a systematic method for assessing the cold tolerance of broccoli seedlings, which is helpful to evaluating the cold tolerance of broccoli cultivars. We selected 14 classical broccoli cultivars and evaluated their cold tolerance by examining physiological indicators including the levels of cold resistance, electrical conductivity, malondialdehyde (MDA), soluble sugar, and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The results showed that there were significant differences in detected characteristics in all cultivars after cold stress during the seedling stage (p < 0.05). Among them, Meiqing had the strongest cold tolerance, followed by King 11, Zhongqing 15, Meiao 7172, Zhongqing 318, Zheqing 80, Zhongqing 16, Zhongqing 319, and Lvxiong 90. However, Zhongqing 11, Yanxiu, Qianghan, and Feicui 5, showed the worst cold tolerance (all died). Pearson correlation analysis indicated that there was a significantly negative correlation between the cold tolerance and the electrical conductivity during broccoli seedling stage, with a correlation coefficient of −0.586 (p < 0.05). At the same time, we found that the electrical conductivity of all broccoli cultivars showed a positive correlation with the MDA and soluble sugar levels, with the correlation coefficients 0.650 and 0.573, respectively (p < 0.05). This study not only firstly provides a fundamental method for evaluating the cold tolerance in different broccoli genotypes and the other cruciferous vegetables, but also offers a scientific evidence explaining the cold tolerance of the Meiqing, King 11, and Zhongqing 15 cultivars widely cultivated in China. Full article
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22 pages, 8249 KiB  
Article
Screening of Varieties Resistant to Late-Spring Coldness in Wheat and Effects of Late-Spring Coldness on the Ultrastructure of Wheat Cells
Agronomy 2023, 13(12), 3011; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13123011 - 07 Dec 2023
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Abstract
Due to global warming, late-spring coldness affecting wheat (LSCW) is one of the major abiotic adversities affecting wheat production. A combination of field and pot trials were conducted in this study. In the field experiment, 20 wheat varieties from the main wheat-producing areas [...] Read more.
Due to global warming, late-spring coldness affecting wheat (LSCW) is one of the major abiotic adversities affecting wheat production. A combination of field and pot trials were conducted in this study. In the field experiment, 20 wheat varieties from the main wheat-producing areas in China were selected as experimental materials. By exploring the effects of LSCW on the spikelet characteristics and yields of different varieties, the evaluation methods and indexes of wheat varieties’ resistance to LSCW were established. Three varieties with strong resistance to LSCW (Yannong19, Guomai9, and Shannong17) and five varieties sensitive to LSCW (Zhengmai895, Xinmai26, Zhengmai366, Zhengmai8329, and Fanmai5) were screened out. The wheat varieties Yannong19 (YN19), with a strong resistance to LSCW, and Xinmai26 (XM26), with LSCW sensitivity, were selected as the test materials for the pot experiment. The ultrastructure changes in the wheat in different low-temperature treatments during the anther differentiation period were observed using an ultra-low-temperature artificial climate incubator set to 4 °C and −4 °C for 4 h (1:00–5:00 a.m.). The average temperature of the field during the low-temperature treatment was 10 °C, which was the control temperature (CK). The results showed that the cell morphology and chloroplast and mitochondrial structures of the functional leaves, young ears, and internodes below the ears were damaged, and the degree of damage was related to the cell location, the extent of low-temperature stress, and the resistance of the varieties. The degree of damage to the wheat cells was found to occur in the following order: young ears > internode belove young ears > functional leaves. The degrees of damage to the wheat cell, chloroplast, and mitochondrial structures increased with the intensification of the low-temperature stress. The damage to the XM26 variety was obviously greater than that inflicted on the YN19 variety. The anatomical mechanism of YN19 cells makes the cell structure more stable during late-spring coldness. Full article
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18 pages, 1926 KiB  
Article
Physio-Chemical and Agronomic-Based Characterization of Synthetic Hexaploid Wheat Germplasm under Field Imposed Conditions of Drought and Heat Stress
Agronomy 2023, 13(2), 458; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13020458 - 03 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1236
Abstract
Abiotic stresses, such as a drought and heat, are potential constraints limiting wheat production across the globe. This current perspective study intended to characterize the performance of exotic synthetic hexaploid (SH) wheat genotypes on a physiological, biochemical, and agronomic basis under field-based drought [...] Read more.
Abiotic stresses, such as a drought and heat, are potential constraints limiting wheat production across the globe. This current perspective study intended to characterize the performance of exotic synthetic hexaploid (SH) wheat genotypes on a physiological, biochemical, and agronomic basis under field-based drought and heat conditions. The tri-replicate experiments were conducted in two seasons using two-factorial arrangements in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with stresses as one factor and genotypes as another factor. The recorded data were statistically analyzed using computer-based software statistix8.1 and R-studio. In this study, all the physiological parameters (total chlorophyll, stomatal conductance, photosynthesis rate, transpiration rate, and cell membrane stability percentage), biochemical stress markers (antioxidant enzymes, glycine betaine, and proline), and agronomic traits (flag leaf area, plant height, tillers per plant, spike length, grains per spike, and thousand grain weight) varied significantly under separate and combined regimes of drought and heat stresses. All traits varied in same direction, excluding glycine betaine and proline, which varied in the opposite direction because of stress, as explicated by correlation analysis. Furthermore, PCA and heatmap analysis confirmed that the expression of the traits varied more significantly because of combined regimes of drought and heat stresses as compared to controlled and isolated applications. Interestingly, synthetic hexaploid (SH) genotypes depicted similar responses to individual and integrated regimes of drought and heat stresses. The current study proved that deciphering the physiological, biochemical, and agronomic performance of wheat genotypes under stress can provide effective criteria for the future selection of wheat germplasm for breeding against drought and heat stresses. Full article
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16 pages, 3934 KiB  
Article
Identification and Characterization of Fungal Pathogens Causing Trunk and Branch Cankers of Almond Trees in Morocco
Agronomy 2023, 13(1), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13010130 - 30 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2208
Abstract
Canker symptoms were observed on almond trees in the Fez-Meknes region, Morocco. Isolations were conducted from the infected branch and trunk showing internal and external brown lesions. Four representative fungal isolates were screened, and their identities were confirmed by cultural traits and sequence [...] Read more.
Canker symptoms were observed on almond trees in the Fez-Meknes region, Morocco. Isolations were conducted from the infected branch and trunk showing internal and external brown lesions. Four representative fungal isolates were screened, and their identities were confirmed by cultural traits and sequence analysis of DNA using two genes, the ITS region (internal transcribed spacer) and calmodulin (cmdA). The identified fungi were Curvularia hawaiiensis, Fusarium ambrosium, Lasiodiplodia theobromae, and Chondrestereum purpureum. The pathogenicity test on almond twigs revealed that these species were pathogenic to their host with different degrees of virulence, with Lasiodiplodia theobromae as the most virulent causing the longest necrotic lesion (285.17 mm) and the death of twigs. Physiological traits analysis of the above-mentioned fungi showed that the optimum mycelium growth response at different temperatures varies from 10 to 35 °C, while the pH ranges between 3.0 and 8.0. This study confirms the presence of canker pathogens on almond trees, which will contribute valuable information to improve the understanding of the contemporary status of almond trees, thus helping the improvement of the management of almond orchards. To our knowledge, all these fungi represent new records in Morocco and some of them are confirmed on the almond trees for the first time in the world. Full article
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Review

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20 pages, 1511 KiB  
Review
Advanced Study of Drought-Responsive Protein Pathways in Plants
Agronomy 2023, 13(3), 849; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13030849 - 14 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2426
Abstract
Drought, the most significant environmental stressor, severely limits plant growth and development and significantly reduces crop production. Drought stress responses vary among plants, allowing them to withstand and survive adverse conditions. Plants resist drought by maintaining signaling pathways, such as the abscisic acid [...] Read more.
Drought, the most significant environmental stressor, severely limits plant growth and development and significantly reduces crop production. Drought stress responses vary among plants, allowing them to withstand and survive adverse conditions. Plants resist drought by maintaining signaling pathways, such as the abscisic acid pathway, and activating unusual proteins, such as dehydrins. This study aims to investigate signaling pathways and the biological structures and activities of proteins involved in these processes. We also look into the occurrence of crosstalk across multiple signaling pathways and what it means for agricultural plant enhancement. By incorporating the most common components across all abiotic stress situations, this review provides insight into the evolution of drought stress tolerance in agricultural plants. This review could be helpful for crop drought stress researchers. Full article
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