Modern day agriculture practice is narrowing the genetic diversity in our food supply. This may compromise the ability to obtain high yield under extreme climactic conditions, threatening food security for a rapidly growing world population. To identify genetic diversity, tolerance mechanisms of cultivars, landraces and wild relatives of major crops can be identified and ultimately exploited for yield improvement. Quantitative proteomics allows for the identification of proteins that may contribute to tolerance mechanisms by directly comparing protein abundance under stress conditions between genotypes differing in their stress responses. In this review, a summary is provided of the data accumulated from quantitative proteomic comparisons of crop genotypes/cultivars which present different stress tolerance responses when exposed to various abiotic stress conditions, including drought, salinity, high/low temperature, nutrient deficiency and UV-B irradiation. This field of research aims to identify molecular features that can be developed as biomarkers for crop improvement, however without accurate phenotyping, careful experimental design, statistical robustness and appropriate biomarker validation and verification it will be challenging to deliver what is promised.
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