GABA signaling in plants: targeting the missing pieces of the puzzle

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26 Scopus citations


The adaptation of plants to unstable environments relies on their ability to sense their surroundings and to generate and transmit corresponding signals to different parts of the plant to evoke changes necessary for optimizing growth and defense. Plants, like animals, contain a huge repertoire of intra- and intercellular signals, including organic and inorganic molecules. The occurrence of neurotransmitter-like signaling molecules in plants has been an intriguing field of research. Among these, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) was discovered in plants over half a century ago, and studies of its roles as a primary metabolite have been well documented, particularly in the context of stress responses. In contrast, evidence of the potential mechanism by which GABA acts as a signaling molecule in plants has only recently been reported. In spite of this breakthrough, the roles of GABA as a signaling molecule in plants have yet to be established and several aspects of the complexity of the GABA signaling system remain obscure. This review summarizes the uncertainties in GABA signaling in plants and suggests research directions and technologies that would help in answering unsolved questions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6238-6245
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number20
StatePublished - 22 Oct 2020


  • Abiotic stress
  • Carbon-nitrogen metabolism
  • Defense responses
  • Fluorescent reporter
  • GABA-binding protein
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
  • Signal transduction


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