We are ultimately interested in signaling processes that operate ubiquitously in Nature, such as those related to the nutrient and energy status, and in how they have been modified to the needs of autotrophic and multi-cellular plants. In contrast to animals, plant growth is largely conditioned by environmental inputs. Such plasticity allows the plant to optimise its growth and development according to the prevailing conditions, ensuring the best possible chance to complete its life cycle and contributing to the striking phenotypic variation of the plant kingdom. Stress can have a great impact on growth, on developmental transitions, as well as on the characteristics of newly formed organs. Often associated with stress is a reduction in photosynthesis and/or respiration, which in turn results in an energy deficit in the cell. Dealing with such imbalances in the energy status is of uttermost importance, since even short periods of starvation can cause growth arrest and result, for example, in seed abortion characteristic of episodes of drought and heat.
Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA Jen Sheen