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Keywords:

  • Environmental stress;
  • regulatory genes;
  • resurrection plants;
  • stress tolerance;
  • transgenic plants

Abstract

Desiccation is the extreme form of dehydration. Tolerance of desiccation is acquired by seeds and in resurrection plants, a small group of angiosperms. Desiccation tolerance is the result of a complex cascade of molecular events, which can be divided into signal perception, signal transduction, gene activation and biochemical alterations leading to acquisition of tolerance. Many of these molecular processes are also observed during the dehydration of non-tolerant plants. Here we try to give an overview of the gene expression programmes that are triggered by dehydration, with particular reference to protective molecules and the regulation of their expression. Potential transgenic approaches to manipulating stress tolerance are discussed.