General Themes of Molecular Stress Physiology

  • Ernst-Detlef Schulze
  • Erwin Beck
  • Nina Buchmann
  • Stephan Clemens
  • Klaus Müller-Hohenstein
  • Michael Scherer-Lorenzen


In this chapter we introduce stress as an ever-present condition of plant life. The various strategies used by plants to cope with fluctuating environmental conditions are defined. An understanding of molecular stress physiology is facilitated by differentiating the responses of an individual (acclimation) from evolutionary processes at the population and species levels (adaptation). Stress tolerance and avoidance reactions of a plant involve a number of common features independent of the type of stress: sensing of environmental or internal changes, long-distance transfer of information between organs and tissues, signal transduction cascades at the cellular level, transcriptional control and the occurrence of oxidative stress. The essential role of model systems in elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes is explained. Another integral part of stress responses is the modulation of growth, that is, a change in resource allocation in favour of stress resistance. A second major strategy, besides stress resistance, that enables a plant to survive and reproduce in a particular environment is escape from unfavourable conditions. Escape is possible through the anticipation of seasonal changes and the timing of key developmental transitions, such as germination, in response to environmental factors. Anticipation is made possible by the biological clock and photoperiodism. Both are molecularly understood quite well now and are discussed here alongside the winter memory of plants and possible trans-generational stress memory phenomena.


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernst-Detlef Schulze
    • 1
  • Erwin Beck
    • 2
  • Nina Buchmann
    • 3
  • Stephan Clemens
    • 2
  • Klaus Müller-Hohenstein
    • 4
  • Michael Scherer-Lorenzen
    • 5
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for BiogeochemistryJenaGermany
  2. 2.Department of Plant PhysiologyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Systems ScienceETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of BiogeographyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  5. 5.Chair of Geobotany, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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