Drought Resistance in Small Grain Cereal Crops

Authored by: Moustafa Eldakak , Mukhtar Ahmed , Muhammad Asif , Sanaa I.M. Milad , Ali I. Nawar , Zohra Aslam , Aakash Goyal , Jai S. Rohila

Handbook of Plant and Crop Physiology

Print publication date:  March  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9781466553286
eBook ISBN: 9781466553293
Adobe ISBN:


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Historical evidences have linked drought with the collapse of the Mayan civilization from 1020 to 1100 A.D. (Kennett et al. 2012). This statement tells the drastic effects of drought in very plain words and also cautions us to find the ways to tackle this problem, which limits the food productions, for the benefit of the future generations. Drought tolerance or resistance is defined as “the potential of a plant to display flower and produce an economic yield under limited supply of water” (Farooq et al. 2009). The viable components of drought resistance in plants include the avoidance as well as the tolerance to water-limited conditions. Plant mechanisms that contribute primarily to the drought resistance in wheat are early maturity so that the crop ripens ahead of periods of drought stress; a vigorous and deep root system to efficiently utilize the available soil moisture; an active mechanism that senses the water-limited environment and closes the stomata in response to the drought stress without hindering the photosynthetic output; a waxy layer on the leaf surface to reduce transpiration loss; and a complex mechanism in which the macromolecules and several small biological molecules such as proteins, nucleic acids (microRNA, RNA, and DNA), lipids, carbohydrates, free radicals, hormones, mineral elements, and ions play crucial roles toward making the plant to cope with the drought stress. Drought is also associated with various stresses, such as high temperatures, excess salt, acidity, cold, and alkalinity, and a number of physiological reactions including pathological reactions, growth, senescence, embryogenesis, development, wound healing, signal transduction, damage by UV-B radiation, flowering, and many other processes. Hence, in general, drought stress is associated with nearly all features of biology of a plant (Hong-Bo et al. 2006).

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