Mechanisms and Adaptation of Plants to Environmental Stress: A Case of Woody Species

  • Azza Chelli-Chaabouni


Growth and productivity of plants are tightly affected by the surrounding environment. The interaction between the different environmental factors leads to specific plant response. Often, the modification of optimal conditions causes a series of changes affecting morphology, anatomy, growth, nutrition, and metabolism leading to plant stress. However, every deviation from optimal environmental conditions does not necessarily lead to stress (Gaspar et al. 2002). Environmental stresses may have biotic or abiotic origin that may be classified into three categories: (1) physical factors (i.e., temperature, light, and water), (2) chemical factors (i.e., salinity, pollution, and heavy metals), and (3) biological factors (i.e., pests, diseases, and allelopathy). When subjected to multiple stresses, plant response differs from that of individual stress. The species develop a particular response to the specific surrounding environmental conditions from morphological to hormonal and molecular levels. The multiple factor interactions may lead to a reduction or enhancement of one stress effect.

Plant response to environmental stress differs according to the intensity and duration of stress as well as the biological organization and the developmental stage of species. Under continuous stress conditions, non-perennial species shorten their biological cycle to produce rapidly reserve organs and avoid stress damage until favorable conditions come back. For their long vegetative cycle, woody species have to support stress for longer time than annual and herbaceous species. Therefore, they developed specific mechanisms to overcome possible damage due to extreme environmental conditions.

In this chapter we present an overview about the different responses of woody species to abiotic and biotic stresses with a specific emphasis to adaptation and resistance mechanisms at morphological, anatomical, and physiological levels.


Abiotic Stress Salt Stress Drought Stress Woody Plant Relative Water Content 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Agronomic Research of TunisiaArianaTunisia

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