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Ann Bot. 2009 Feb;103(4):609-23. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcn227. Epub 2008 Nov 13.

Transcription factors and regulation of photosynthetic and related metabolism under environmental stresses.

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Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Oeiras, Portugal.



Environmental conditions, such as water supply, temperature and salinity, strongly affect plant growth and development. Extremes of these conditions (abiotic stresses) adversely affect many different mechanisms associated with plant responses and adaptation to stress: photosynthetic mechanisms, e.g. stomatal control of CO(2) diffusion, photosystem II repair, ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) activity and scavenging of reactive oxygen species (ROS), are susceptible to damage, and photosynthetic efficiency can be greatly decreased. Responses and adaptations require differential gene expression, which is regulated by specific transcription factors (TFs).


The role and regulation of several TFs involved in abiotic stress response pathways are considered, with emphasis on new findings regarding expression of genes related to both stomatal and non-stomatal limitations to CO(2) photosynthetic assimilation.


Many TFs, belonging to different families (e.g. MYB, bZIP and DREB), have been related to abiotic stress responses; however, only a few are known to regulate the expression of photosynthesis-related genes in response to stress. Several TFs belonging to the MYB family play an important role in both stomatal and non-stomatal responses by regulation of stomatal numbers and sizes, and metabolic components, respectively. To obtain more insight into this area of potentially large agronomic impact, it is essential to identify and functionally characterize new TFs that mediate the stress responses regulating the expression of genes associated with photosynthesis and related metabolism.

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