Journal of Plant Growth Regulation

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 606–618 | Cite as

Trehalose: A Key Organic Osmolyte Effectively Involved in Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance

  • Firdos Kosar
  • Nudrat Aisha AkramEmail author
  • Muhammad Sadiq
  • Fahad Al-Qurainy
  • Muhammad Ashraf


Trehalose is a natural non-reducing sugar that is found in the vast majority of organisms such as bacteria, yeasts, invertebrates and even in plants. Regarding its features, it is considered as a unique compound. It plays a key role as a carbon source in lower organisms and as an osmoprotectant or a stabilizing molecule in higher animals and plants. Although in plants it is present in a minor quantity, its levels rise upon exposure to abiotic stresses. Trehalose is believed to play a protective role against different abiotic stressful cues such as temperature extremes, salinity, desiccation. Moreover, it regulates water use efficiency and stomatal movement in most plants. Detectable endogenous trehalose levels are vital for sustaining growth under stressful cues. Exogenously applied trehalose in low amounts mitigates physiological and biochemical disorders induced by various abiotic stresses, delays leaf abscission and stimulates flowering in crops. External application of trehalose also up-regulates the stress responsive genes in plants exposed to environmental cues. The genetically modified plants with trehalose biosynthesis genes exhibit improved tolerance against stressful conditions. An increased level of trehalose has been observed in transgenic plants over-expressing genes of microbial trehalose biosynthesis. However, these transgenic plants display enhanced tolerance to heat, cold, salinity, and drought tolerance. Due to multiple bio-functions of this sugar, it has gained considerable ground in various fields. However, exogenous use of this bio-safe sugar would only be possible under field conditions upon adopting strategies of low-cost production of trehalose. In short, trehalose is a unique chemical that preserves vitality of plant life under harsh ecological conditions. Certainly, the new findings of this disaccharide will revolutionize a wide array of new avenues.


Trehalose Abiotic stress Osmoprotectants Antioxidant Plants 



This research work is a part of Ph.D. thesis of Miss. Firdos Kosar.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Firdos Kosar
    • 1
  • Nudrat Aisha Akram
    • 1
    Email author
  • Muhammad Sadiq
    • 1
  • Fahad Al-Qurainy
    • 2
  • Muhammad Ashraf
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BotanyGovernment College UniversityFaisalabadPakistan
  2. 2.Department of Botany and MicrobiologyKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Pakistan Academy of SciencesIslamabadPakistan

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