Research Topic

Biological Mechanisms of Plant Interactions With a Combination of Biotic and Abiotic Stresses

About this Research Topic

This Research Topic addresses the way plants respond to a combination of different types of stresses, for instance, how a plant deals with simultaneous attacks by pathogens (biotic stress) and environmental stresses (abiotic stress). While most plant research has been focused on the understanding of individual biotic or abiotic stress responses, we propose to encourage submissions on a broader approach that better represents stress conditions encountered in the field.

Indeed, in nature or under field conditions plants are not just dealing with one environmental stress: they are often coping with several simultaneously occurring biotic and abiotic stresses. Recent findings indicate that predicting the plant response to a combination of stresses cannot be made from the knowledge of an individual stress, and therefore remains a major challenge.

It remains to be determined what biological systems respond to combined stresses. Hormones, with their complex regulation and cross-talk, as well as molecules like calcium or reactive oxygen species, are likely to play a key role in combined stresses as potential integrators of multiple signaling pathways. Moreover, given the importance of epigenetic changes in response to a given stress, the role of epigenetic modifications during combined stresses needs further attention. Combined stresses may not only be concomitant but be successive, either during a plant’s life or across generations. In that respect, trans-generational, epigenetic changes and more generally stress memory mechanisms could also be important for our understanding of combinational stresses. Interestingly, dual RNA-Seq and other approaches also indicate that besides the measured changes in plants, pathogen transcriptional programs are also severely and indirectly affected by stresses applied to their host plants.

This Research Topic welcomes the submission of all article types, with a preference for Original Research, Reviews, and Opinions, focusing on the following:
(1) analysis at the molecular and physiological level of combined stresses, and if possible also describing the behavior of the pathogen,
(2) genetic and epigenetic studies of combined biotic and abiotic stresses,
(3) studies describing at the plant level or within how a well-known mechanism involved in one type of stress is affected by another type of stress (e.g., how Resistance gene function is altered by heat),
(4) studies using bioinformatics/computational tools to analyze various publicly available transcriptomic/proteomic/metabolomic datasets, provided that the genomic studies have adequate biological/functional validation,

All types of common pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes) and insects are welcome, which exclude probiotic or beneficial organisms; abiotic stresses may also include agronomical constraints, like nutrient fertilization. In this Research Topic, ‘combined stress’ is understood as a combination of one biotic stress with at least one abiotic stress. Studies need to provide a mechanisms or a molecular level understanding of stress interaction, and not just an evaluation. Manuscripts dealing with each type of stress separately (e.g., “gene X confers both drought tolerance and pathogen resistance”) will not be considered.


Keywords: combined stresses, biotic, abiotic, stress interaction, pathogen


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.

This Research Topic addresses the way plants respond to a combination of different types of stresses, for instance, how a plant deals with simultaneous attacks by pathogens (biotic stress) and environmental stresses (abiotic stress). While most plant research has been focused on the understanding of individual biotic or abiotic stress responses, we propose to encourage submissions on a broader approach that better represents stress conditions encountered in the field.

Indeed, in nature or under field conditions plants are not just dealing with one environmental stress: they are often coping with several simultaneously occurring biotic and abiotic stresses. Recent findings indicate that predicting the plant response to a combination of stresses cannot be made from the knowledge of an individual stress, and therefore remains a major challenge.

It remains to be determined what biological systems respond to combined stresses. Hormones, with their complex regulation and cross-talk, as well as molecules like calcium or reactive oxygen species, are likely to play a key role in combined stresses as potential integrators of multiple signaling pathways. Moreover, given the importance of epigenetic changes in response to a given stress, the role of epigenetic modifications during combined stresses needs further attention. Combined stresses may not only be concomitant but be successive, either during a plant’s life or across generations. In that respect, trans-generational, epigenetic changes and more generally stress memory mechanisms could also be important for our understanding of combinational stresses. Interestingly, dual RNA-Seq and other approaches also indicate that besides the measured changes in plants, pathogen transcriptional programs are also severely and indirectly affected by stresses applied to their host plants.

This Research Topic welcomes the submission of all article types, with a preference for Original Research, Reviews, and Opinions, focusing on the following:
(1) analysis at the molecular and physiological level of combined stresses, and if possible also describing the behavior of the pathogen,
(2) genetic and epigenetic studies of combined biotic and abiotic stresses,
(3) studies describing at the plant level or within how a well-known mechanism involved in one type of stress is affected by another type of stress (e.g., how Resistance gene function is altered by heat),
(4) studies using bioinformatics/computational tools to analyze various publicly available transcriptomic/proteomic/metabolomic datasets, provided that the genomic studies have adequate biological/functional validation,

All types of common pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes) and insects are welcome, which exclude probiotic or beneficial organisms; abiotic stresses may also include agronomical constraints, like nutrient fertilization. In this Research Topic, ‘combined stress’ is understood as a combination of one biotic stress with at least one abiotic stress. Studies need to provide a mechanisms or a molecular level understanding of stress interaction, and not just an evaluation. Manuscripts dealing with each type of stress separately (e.g., “gene X confers both drought tolerance and pathogen resistance”) will not be considered.


Keywords: combined stresses, biotic, abiotic, stress interaction, pathogen


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.

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Submission Deadlines

16 January 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

16 January 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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