The growth, development and productivity of crop plants is negatively influenced by abiotic stresses like drought, salinity, heat and chilling leading to significant losses in crop yield. The modern technology of genetic engineering has enabled the scientists to move genes from distant sources into crop plants to develop resistance against insect pests, weeds and invading pathogens, some of them have already been commercialized. Similarly, efforts have been made to develop crop plants with enhanced tolerance against drought, salinity and chilling and waterlogging stress. Engineering crops against abiotic stresses has always been a challenge as this character is controlled by multigenes. The stress signaling and regulatory pathways have been elucidated using advanced molecular approaches and genes encoding tolerance to drought, salinity and chilling stress are being introduced in crop plants of economic importance using transformational technologies. The present review focuses the recent advances made in the development of transgenic crop plants of commercial importance with enhanced tolerance to abiotic stress; also the future prospects of stress tolerant crops have also been discussed.
Key words: Crop productivity, Desired trait, Genetic transformation, Stress physiology