Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 847–867 | Cite as

Diverse role of γ-aminobutyric acid in dynamic plant cell responses

  • Maryam Seifikalhor
  • Sasan AliniaeifardEmail author
  • Batool Hassani
  • Vahid Niknam
  • Oksana Lastochkina
Review Article


Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a four-carbon non-protein amino acid, is found in most prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Although, ample research into GABA has occurred in mammals as it is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter; in plants, a role for GABA has often been suggested as a metabolite that changes under stress rather than as a signal, as no receptor or motif for GABA binding was identified until recently and many aspects of its biological function (ranging from perception to function) remain to be answered. In this review, flexible properties of GABA in regulation of plant responses to various environmental biotic and abiotic stresses and its integration in plant growth and development either as a metabolite or a signaling molecule are discussed. We have elaborated on the role of GABA in stress adaptation (i.e., salinity, hypoxia/anoxia, drought, temperature, heavy metals, plant–insect interplay and ROS-related responses) and its contribution in non-stress-related biological pathways (i.e., involvement in plant–microbe interaction, contribution to the carbon and nitrogen metabolism and governing of signal transduction pathways). This review aims to represent the multifunctional contribution of GABA in various biological and physiological mechanisms under stress conditions; the objective is to review the current state of knowledge about GABA role beyond stress-related responses. Our effort is to place findings about GABA in an organized and broader context to highlight its shared metabolic and biologic functions in plants under variable conditions. This will provide potential modes of GABA crosstalk in dynamic plant cell responses.


Abiotic stress Biotic stress GABA Multifunctional contribution Non-stress Plants 



Financial support from Iran National Science Foundation (INSF) Grant number 97007583 to Dr. Maryam Seifi-kalhor is gratefully acknowledged. Authors also want to sincerely thank Hannah Burkett and Sunita Ramesh for critical revising of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant Biology, Center of Excellence in Phylogeny of Living Organisms in Iran, School of Biology, College of ScienceUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  2. 2.Department of Horticulture, College of AburaihanUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  3. 3.Department of Plant Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences and BiotechnologyShahid Beheshti UniversityTehranIran
  4. 4.Bashkir Research Institute of AgricultureRussian Academy of SciencesUfaRussia
  5. 5.Institute of Biochemistry and GeneticsRussian Academy of SciencesUfaRussia

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