The Role of Sulfur in Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance: Molecular Interactions and Defense Mechanisms

  • Mirza Hasanuzzaman
  • Md. Shahadat Hossain
  • M. H. M. Borhannuddin Bhuyan
  • Jubayer Al Mahmud
  • Kamrun Nahar
  • Masayuki Fujita


Sulfur (S) is an essential macronutrient in plants that serves numerous plant functions and is vital for the metabolic processes. Moreover, it is the constituent of some essential amino acids and metabolites. Recent studies have provided the notion that S not only improves the productivity of plants under normal condition but also protects them from abiotic stresses like salinity, drought, and toxic metals/metalloids. Different S compounds directly act as antioxidants or modulate antioxidant defense system. Among them, glutathione (GSH) is regarded as one of the powerful antioxidants and stress protectors. Interactions of S with other biological molecules afford stress signaling to provide defense against environmental stresses. However, the S uptake, translocation, and mechanisms of action in plants under stressful conditions are still under research. The recent progress on the roles of S in conferring abiotic stresses and related literature is presented in this chapter.


Abiotic stress Antioxidants Cysteine Glutathione Plant nutrients Sulfate transporters 



Abscisic acid


1-Aminocyclopropane carboxylic acid (ACC) synthase (ACS)


APS kinase


Adenosine-5′-phosphosulfate reductase




Ascorbate peroxidase




Adenosine triphosphate


ATP sulfurylase




Cystathionine β-lyase


Cystathionine γ-synthase


Cysteine synthase complex








Dehydroascorbate reductase


Elongation factor-thermo unstable




Glycine betaine


Glutamate-cysteine ligase

Gly I

Glyoxalase I

Gly II

Glyoxalase II


Glutathione peroxidase


Glutathione reductase






Glutathione synthetase


Oxidized glutathione


Glutathione S-transferase










Monodehydroascorbate reductase






Messenger ribonucleic acid


Methionine synthase


Sodium hydrosulfide


Nonprotein thiol




O-Acetylserine sulfhydrylase










Polyethylene glycol






Reactive oxygen species


Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction


Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase


Serine acetyltransferase




Sulfite reductase




Superoxide dismutase


Proton/SO42−cotransporter in plants


Sulfur-responsive element


Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances




γ-Glutamylcysteine synthetase





The authors acknowledge Khursheda Parvin and Sayed Mohammad Mohsin, Laboratory of Plant Stress Responses, Faculty of Agriculture, Kagawa University, Japan, for critic reading and formatting of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirza Hasanuzzaman
    • 1
  • Md. Shahadat Hossain
    • 2
  • M. H. M. Borhannuddin Bhuyan
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jubayer Al Mahmud
    • 4
  • Kamrun Nahar
    • 5
  • Masayuki Fujita
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Agronomy, Faculty of AgricultureSher-e-Bangla Agricultural UniversityDhakaBangladesh
  2. 2.Laboratory of Plant Stress Responses, Department of Applied Biological Science, Faculty of AgricultureKagawa UniversityKagawaJapan
  3. 3.Bangladesh Agricultural Research InstituteGazipurBangladesh
  4. 4.Department of Agroforestry and Environmental Science, Faculty of AgricultureSher-e-Bangla Agricultural UniversityDhakaBangladesh
  5. 5.Department of Agricultural Botany, Faculty of AgricultureSher-e-Bangla Agricultural UniversityDhakaBangladesh

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