About this Research Topic
Plants are increasingly challenged by multiple, co-occurring stresses that impact individual species’ growth, development, and consequently crop yields but also communities and their functioning in ecosystems. The effects of combined stresses may be additive, synergistic, or antagonistic, and the mechanisms or anti-stress factors that alleviate impacts may differ from responses to individual stressors. Although researchers are now better able to conduct experiments with multi-stress implementation platforms, phenotyping, and modeling, our fundamental knowledge of how combined stresses influence plant growth is still lacking. The effects of combined stress along the soil-plant-air continuum and the interactions between abiotic and biotic stress require more research. With the increasing number of experiments and the multi-disciplinary approaches taken, there is now an opportunity to dissect and analyse the data to address more fundamental questions, providing clues as to which approaches are most suitable to tackle the multiple challenges.
Several approaches to collecting, structuring, and processing knowledge on the influence of various stress combinations are now available to researchers, and each of them has its advantages and shortcomings. Quantitative approaches that define combined stress effects on plant growth and development have provided key datasets. However, the datasets may not be broadly applicable between different plant species, in the field, or in natural systems when the whole environment is influential. Nonetheless, these approaches can lead to fundamental insights into physiological responses and underlying genetic components. Approaches that result in large datasets, for example, multi-omics, may, on the one hand, lead to a better understanding of differences in molecular pathways, but on the other may result in data that are too complex to distil, particularly if the phenotype and the environment have not been accurately characterised. Alternatively, approaches that integrate knowledge without explicit dissection, such as genomic selection or machine-learning in plant breeding efficiently process data but may be too error-prone. What we learn from natural systems and their recent history integrates the effects of climate change and might also inform selection and practice for future crops.
In this Research Topic, we welcome original research, including meta-analyses, that provide new insights into how plants develop, respond, and adapt to combined stresses and how best to use this knowledge for impact in production or ecosystem management.
• Physiological and molecular pathways regulating combined stress response and tolerance and the effects on growth and development
• Functional analysis of the pathways responsible for combined tolerance to abiotic and biotic stresses
• The role of the microbiome in modulating plant responses to combined stress and its potential applications in combined stress tolerance
• The effects of combined stresses in natural systems and potential applications to food crops
Please note that purely descriptive reviews and studies that report findings without any new insight will not be considered.
Keywords: Combined stress, stress tolerance, abiotic and biotic, plant development
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