Molecular Mechanisms of Nitric Oxide (NO) Signaling and Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) Homeostasis during Abiotic Stresses in Plants

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Abiotic stressors, such as drought, heavy metals, and high salinity, are causing huge crop losses worldwide. These abiotic stressors are expected to become more extreme, less predictable, and more widespread in the near future. With the rapidly growing human population and changing global climate conditions, it is critical to prevent global crop losses to meet the increasing demand for food and other crop products. The reactive gaseous signaling molecule nitric oxide (NO) is involved in numerous plant developmental processes as well as plant responses to various abiotic stresses through its interactions with various molecules. Together, these interactions lead to the homeostasis of reactive oxygen species (ROS), proline and glutathione biosynthesis, post-translational modifications such as S-nitrosylation, and modulation of gene and protein expression. Exogenous application of various NO donors positively mitigates the negative effects of various abiotic stressors. In view of the multidimensional role of this signaling molecule, research over the past decade has investigated its potential in alleviating the deleterious effects of various abiotic stressors, particularly in ROS homeostasis. In this review, we highlight the recent molecular and physiological advances that provide insights into the functional role of NO in mediating various abiotic stress responses in plants.