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Front. Plant Sci., 31 December 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2012.00294

Reverse engineering: a key component of systems biology to unravel global abiotic stress cross-talk

  • 1Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, Gatersleben, Germany
  • 2RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
  • 3IBG-2: Plant Sciences, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, Germany

Understanding the global abiotic stress response is an important stepping stone for the development of universal stress tolerance in plants in the era of climate change. Although co-occurrence of several stress factors (abiotic and biotic) in nature is found to be frequent, current attempts are poor to understand the complex physiological processes impacting plant growth under combinatory factors. In this review article, we discuss the recent advances of reverse engineering approaches that led to seminal discoveries of key candidate regulatory genes involved in cross-talk of abiotic stress responses and summarized the available tools of reverse engineering and its relevant application. Among the universally induced regulators involved in various abiotic stress responses, we highlight the importance of (i) abscisic acid (ABA) and jasmonic acid (JA) hormonal cross-talks and (ii) the central role of WRKY transcription factors (TF), potentially mediating both abiotic and biotic stress responses. Such interactome networks help not only to derive hypotheses but also play a vital role in identifying key regulatory targets and interconnected hormonal responses. To explore the full potential of gene network inference in the area of abiotic stress tolerance, we need to validate hypotheses by implementing time-dependent gene expression data from genetically engineered plants with modulated expression of target genes. We further propose to combine information on gene-by-gene interactions with data from physical interaction platforms such as protein–protein or TF-gene networks.

Keywords: abiotic stress, Arabidopsis, reverse engineering, systems biology, stress tolerance, yield

Citation: Friedel S, Usadel B, von Wirén N and Sreenivasulu N (2012) Reverse engineering: a key component of systems biology to unravel global abiotic stress cross-talk. Front. Plant Sci. 3:294. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00294

Received: 14 September 2012; Accepted: 10 December 2012;
Published online: 31 December 2012.

Edited by:

Alisdair Fernie, Max Planck Institut for Plant Physiology, Germany

Reviewed by:

Ming Chen, Zhejiang University, China
Yuehui He, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Copyright: © 2012 Friedel, Usadel, von Wirén and Sreenivasulu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Nese Sreenivasulu, Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, D-06466 Gatersleben, Germany. e-mail: srinivas@ipk-gatersleben.de