Institute of Ecology, School of Applied Meteorology, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China; Hokkaido Research Center, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute (FFPRI), Forest Research and Management Organization, Sapporo, Hokkaido 062-8516, Japan. Electronic address: [Email]
The field of dose-response has received attention from the early modern period in the history of science. While it was thought that linear dose-response is the rule of thumb, significant efforts revealed that biphasic dose-response commonly occurs when the experimental design permits its detection. This phenomenon is called hormesis and suggests that a basal stress level is needed for optimum health. Extensive evidence has accumulated showing the occurrence of hormesis in numerous plant species and the induction of adaptive responses by low stress doses that precondition plants for a following massive environmental challenge. However, the ecological consequences of low-level stress remain underexplored. In this Opinion article, we propose that hormesis can provide a compelling platform for sophisticated, next-generation plant science.