Citric acid-mediated abiotic stress tolerance in plants

Md Tahjib-Ul-arif, Mst Ishrat Zahan, Md Masudul Karim, Shahin Imran, Charles T. Hunter, Md Saiful Islam, Md Ashik Mia, Md Abdul Hannan, Mohammad Saidur Rhaman, Md Afzal Hossain, Marian Brestic, Milan Skalicky, Yoshiyuki Murata

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Several recent studies have shown that citric acid/citrate (CA) can confer abiotic stress tolerance to plants. Exogenous CA application leads to improved growth and yield in crop plants under various abiotic stress conditions. Improved physiological outcomes are associated with higher photosynthetic rates, reduced reactive oxygen species, and better osmoregulation. Application of CA also induces antioxidant defense systems, promotes increased chlorophyll content, and affects secondary metabolism to limit plant growth restrictions under stress. In particular, CA has a major impact on relieving heavy metal stress by promoting precipitation, chelation, and sequestration of metal ions. This review summarizes the mechanisms that mediate CA-regulated changes in plants, primarily CA’s involvement in the control of physiological and molecular processes in plants under abiotic stress conditions. We also review genetic engineering strategies for CA-mediated abiotic stress tolerance. Finally, we propose a model to explain how CA’s position in complex metabolic networks involving the biosynthesis of phytohormones, amino acids, signaling molecules, and other secondary metabolites could explain some of its abiotic stress-ameliorating properties. This review summarizes our current understanding of CA-mediated abiotic stress tolerance and highlights areas where additional research is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7235
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2021


  • Aluminum toxicity
  • Antioxidant
  • Citrate
  • Drought stress
  • Heavy metal stress
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Salinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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