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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2011 Jun;14(3):240-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2011.04.006. Epub 2011 May 9.

Drought, metabolites, and Arabidopsis natural variation: a promising combination for understanding adaptation to water-limited environments.

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Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.


Drought elicits substantial changes in plant metabolism and it remains a challenge to determine which of these changes represent adaptive responses and which of them are merely neutral effects or even symptoms of damage. Arabidopsis primarily uses low water potential/dehydration avoidance strategies to respond to water limitation. The large variation in evolved stress responses among accessions can be a powerful tool to identify ecologically important and adaptive traits; however, collection of relevant phenotype data under controlled water stress is often a limiting factor. Quantitative genetics of Arabidopsis has great potential to find the genes underlying variation in drought-affected metabolic traits, for example proline metabolism, as well as overall adaptation.

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