Glycine betaine (GB) is a major organic osmolytes that accumulate in a variety of plant species in response to environmental stresses such as drought, salinity, extreme temperatures, UV radiation and heavy metals.
Although the actual role in plant osmotolerance remain controversial,compounds are thought to have positive effects on enzyme and membrane integrity along with adaptive roles in mediating osmotic adjustment in plants grown under stress conditions. While many studies have indicated a positive relationship between accumulation of GB and plant stress tolerance, some have argued that the increase in their concentrations under stress is a product of, and not an adaptive response to stress. As not all plant species are capable of natural production or accumulation of these compounds in response to stress, extensive research has been conducted examining various approaches to introduce them into plants.
Genetically-engineered plants containing transgenes for production of GB have thus far faced with the limitation of being unable to produce sufficient amounts of these compounds to ameliorate stress effects. An alternative “shot-gun” approach of exogenous application of GB to plants under stress conditions, however, has gained some attention. In many, but not all, plant species such applications lead to significant increases in growth and final crop yield under environmental stresses. All these factors may vary from species to species.
Furthermore, a better understanding of the mechanisms of action of exogenously applied GB is expected to aid their effective utilization in crop production in stress environments.
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