Journal Article

Coping Mechanisms for Crop Plants in Drought-prone Environments

Peter M. Neumann

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 101, issue 7, pages 901-907
Published in print May 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online February 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Coping Mechanisms for Crop Plants in Drought-prone Environments

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Drought is a major limitation to plant productivity. Various options are available for increasing water availability and sustaining growth of crop plants in drought-prone environments.


After a general introduction to the problems of water availability, this review focuses on a critical evaluation of recent progress in unravelling mechanisms for modifying plant growth responses to drought.


Investigations of key regulatory mechanisms integrating plant growth responses to water deficits at the whole-organism, cellular and genomic levels continue to provide novel and exiting research findings. For example, recent reports contradict the widespread conception that root-derived abscisic acid is necessarily involved in signalling for stomatal and shoot-growth responses to soil water deficits. The findings bring into question the theoretical basis for alternate-side root-irrigation techniques. Similarly, recent reports indicate that increased ABA production or increased aquaporin expression did not lead to improved drought resistance. Other reports have concerned key genes and proteins involved in regulation of flowering (FT), vegetative growth (DELLA), leaf senescence (IPT) and desiccation tolerance (LEA). Introgression of such genes, with suitable promoters, can greatly impact on whole-plant responses to drought. Further developments could facilitate the introduction by breeders of new crop varieties with growth physiologies tailored to improved field performance under drought. Parallel efforts to encourage the introduction of supplementary irrigation with water made available by improved conservation measures and by sea- or brackish-water desalination, will probably provide comprehensive solutions to coping with drought-prone environments.

Keywords: Growth; drought resistance; flowering; senescence; root signals; ABA; FT; DELLA; IPT; LEA; desalination; conservation

Journal Article.  5596 words. 

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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