About this Research Topic
Unfavorable soils (low supply of nutrients, high levels of toxic elements, salinity, compaction) and climatic (drought, waterlogging, high temperature, low temperature) conditions reduce plant and crop productivity. Low fertility soils, and extreme weather events resulting from climate change, are a major threat to global food security. Plants have evolved sophisticated adaptive mechanisms to withstand the multiple abiotic stresses to which they are exposed. Plants depend on their root system responses for their survival in nature, and their yield and nutritional quality in agriculture.
Most studies examining plant adaptation to abiotic stress conditions are undertaken by applying a single stress condition and analyzing the different physiological, biochemical and molecular aspects of plant acclimation. This contrasts to the conditions that occur in nature where crops and other plants are routinely subjected to a combination of different abiotic stresses. A good example of combined soil stress is the co-occurrence of aluminum toxicity and phosphorus deficiency in acid soils, particularly in the tropics. An example of a combined climatic stress is the co-occurrence of drought and heat stresses during summer. The effect of combined stress factors on crops and plants is not always additive due to the nature of interactions between the stress factors which dictate the final outcome.
Root systems are complex, and a variety of traits have been identified over the past decade that contribute to adaptation to individual and/or multiple stress factors. Recent studies now suggest that aluminum resistance can exert pleiotropic effects on phosphorus acquisition, potentially expanding the role of aluminum resistance on plant adaptation to acid soils. Thus pleiotropy could be a genetic linkage between aluminum resistance and low phosphorus tolerance. Understanding the mechanisms by which plants adapt to combined stress factors is critical for creating efficient genetic and agronomic strategies to develop cultivars for the sustainable intensification of production systems.
This Research Topic addresses the way root systems respond to individual and combined abiotic stress factors, including soil and climatic stress conditions. We emphasize the adaptations occurring in roots at the molecular, biochemical, physiological and morphological levels that contribute to plant performance.
In this Research Topic, we aim to provide an on-line, open-access snapshot of the current knowledge on root adaptations to multiple stress factors. We will build a collection of articles tackling root system responses to individual and combined abiotic (soil and climatic) stress factors using multiple approaches, and at multiple levels (molecular, biochemical, physiological, morphological, agronomical). We particularly welcome manuscripts dealing with the following topics:
- Alterations in root system structure and function
- Acquisition of water and nutrients
- Root level alterations in metabolites, proteins, and genes
- Molecular mechanisms of resistance or tolerance
- Adaptive root responses to combined stress factors
- Phenotyping methods to identify plants with superior performance
We warmly welcome the following article types: original research articles, reviews of specific topics, articles formulating opinions, and short communications on innovative phenotyping methods to evaluate germplasm.
Keywords: Nutrient deficiency, Water stress, Heat stress, Salinity, Acid soil stress, Metabolic changes, Gene regulation, Protein regulation, Root system architecture, Deep rooting, Yield
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.