Understanding and Exploiting the Impact of Drought Stress on Plant Physiology

Olga M. Grant

Abstract

Despite the enormous volume of literature relating to plant responses to drought, there is still much work to be done to fully unravel the impact of a range of possibly interacting processes on plant physiology during drought. This review highlights some of the key processes. Some aspects of plant physiological response to drought can actually be beneficial in agronomy, if exploited correctly. It is also clear that substantial genetic variation in response to drought exists within many species. Exploiting such variation in conventional breeding has led to the release of drought-tolerant varieties. Increasing demand for food and other plant-based products coupled with increasing frequency and distribution of drought means that more rapid development of suitable varieties is now required. Understanding the genetic basis of drought tolerance is therefore essential, and the explosion in genomic data for a wide range of plant species is currently being harnessed in enhancing genetic improvement programmes.

Keywords

Aquaporins • Deficit irrigation • Gas exchange • Gene expression • Osmotic adjustment • Photosynthesis • Quantitative trait loci • Reactive oxygen species • Stomatal conductance • Water use efficiency

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