The physiological, biochemical and molecular roles of brassinosteroids and salicylic acid in plant processes and salt tolerance

M. Ashraf, N. A. Akram, R. N. Arteca, Majid R. Foolad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

292 Scopus citations


Plant hormones regulate plant growth and development by affecting an array of cellular, physiological, and developmental processes, including, but not limited to, cell division and elongation, stomatal regulation, photosynthesis, transpiration, ion uptake and transport, initiation of leaf, flower and fruit development, and senescence. Environmental factors such as salinity, drought, and extreme temperatures may cause a reduction in plant growth and productivity by altering the endogenous levels of plant hormones, sensitivity to plant hormones, and/or signaling pathways. Molecular and physiological studies have determined that plant hormones and abiotic stresses have interactive effects on a number of basic biochemical and physiological processes, leading to reduced plant growth and development. Various strategies have been considered or employed to maximize plant growth and productivity under environmental stresses such as salt-stress. A fundamental approach is to develop salt-tolerant plants through genetic means. Breeding for salt tolerance, however, is a long-term endeavor with its own complexities and inherent difficulties. The success of this approach depends, among others, on the availability of genetic sources of tolerance and reliable screening techniques, identification and successful transfer of genetic components of tolerance to desired genetic backgrounds, and development of elite breeding lines and cultivars with salt tolerance and other desirable agricultural characteristics. Such extensive processes have delayed development of successful salt-tolerant cultivars in most crop species. An alternative and technically simpler approach is to induce salt tolerance through exogenous application of certain plant growth-regulating compounds. This approach has gained significant interest during the past decade, when a wealth of new knowledge has become available on the beneficial roles of the six classes of plant hormones (auxins, gibberellins, cytokinins, abscisic acid, ethylene, and brassinosteroids) as well as several other plant growth-regulating substances (jasmonates, salicylates, polyamines, triacontanol, ascorbic acid, and tocopherols) on plant stress tolerance. Among these, brassinosteroids (BRs) and salicylic acid (SA) have been studied most extensively. Both BRs and SA are ubiquitous in the plant kingdom, affecting plant growth and development in many different ways, and are known to improve plant stress tolerance. In this article, we review and discuss the current knowledge and possible applications of BRs and SA that could be used to mitigate the harmful effects of salt-stress in plants. We also discuss the roles of exogenous applications of BRs and SA in the regulation of various biochemical and physiological processes leading to improved salt tolerance in plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-190
Number of pages29
JournalCritical Reviews in Plant Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science


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