High-throughput sequencing for transcript profiling in plants has revealed that alternative splicing (AS) affects a much higher proportion of the transcriptome than was previously assumed. AS is involved in most plant processes and is particularly prevalent in plants exposed to environmental stress. The identification of mutations in predicted splicing factors and spliceosomal proteins that affect cell fate, the circadian clock, plant defense, and tolerance/sensitivity to abiotic stress all point to a fundamental role of splicing/AS in plant growth, development, and responses to external cues. Splicing factors affect the AS of multiple downstream target genes, thereby transferring signals to alter gene expression via splicing factor/AS networks. The last two to three years have seen an ever-increasing number of examples of functional AS. At a time when the identification of AS in individual genes and at a global level is exploding, this review aims to bring together such examples to illustrate the extent and importance of AS, which are not always obvious from individual publications. It also aims to ensure that plant scientists are aware that AS is likely to occur in the genes that they study and that dynamic changes in AS and its consequences need to be considered routinely.
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