With both biotic and abiotic stresses predicted to worsen due to climate change, the ideal crop of the future must have traits to handle both. Common abiotic stresses like drought, cold, and salinity cause osmotic stress by disrupting cell turgor. Exposure to a mild salt treatment leads some plants to acquire osmotic tolerance. Ariga et al. identify the ACQUIRED OSMOTOLERANCE (ACQOS) locus and show that osmotolerant A. thaliana accessions carry a deletion spanning ACQOS. Despite this positive effect on osmotolerance in its absence, phylogenetic analysis revealed widespread retention of ACQOS, leading to the hypothesis that having this gene can be advantageous. In fact, the authors demonstrate that plants retaining ACQOS are less able to suppress bacterial growth in response to flagellin. The environmental dependence of the effect of ACQOS is a beautiful illustration a trade-off between abiotic and biotic stressors. Nature Plants 10.1038/nplants.2017.72 (Contributed by Lyza).
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