Crops and Drought


Water deficit or drought is the most prevalent abiotic stress factors in the world and most detrimental for agronomic and yield, thence, economic. Crop growth at developmental stages negatively influenced by drought due to morphological damages, physiological disruptions and biochemical alternations, and, therefore, yield losses. The escalating drastic impacts of drought stress putting global crop production as well as food security at high risk. Plant crops developed different physiological and genetic mechanisms includes drought escape, avoidance and tolerance. Understanding these mechanisms can help in improving crop performance and adaptation under drought conditions. Improving drought tolerance varieties with high yield potential under such harsh stress conditions is the ultimate target of crop breeding program. Interestingly, many quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for drought stress tolerance have been detected in economically important crops, but few of them have been efficiently utilised in breeding.

Key Concepts

  • Water deficit or drought is the most prevalent abiotic stress factors in the world.
  • Crop growth and development are adversely influenced by drought.
  • Drought is considered as the most detrimental for agronomic and yield.
  • Plant response to drought by morphological, physiological and biochemical mechanisims.
  • Drought response mechanisms includes drought escape, avoidance, and tolerance.
  • Many QTLs for drought stress tolerance have been detected.
  • Drought tolerance is a complex and polygenic trait controlled by many genes and influenced by environments.

Keywords: drought tolerance; crops; QTL; breeding; cereals

Figure 1. The key features of morphological and physiological involved in crop plant responses to drought stress. Drought tolerance improved in many traits. ABA, abscisic acid; ROS, reactive oxygen species.
Figure 2. Approaches to study the genetic basis of drought tolerance and to identify genes or loci for engineering or breeding drought‐tolerant crops. BC, backcrossing; IL, isogenic line; NIL, near‐isogenic line; GWAS, genome‐wide association study; GWS, genome‐wide selection; MAS, marker‐assisted selection; MABC, marker‐assisted backcrossing; MARS, marker‐assisted recurrent selection; QTL, quantitative trait locus.


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Thabet, Samar G, and Alqudah, Ahmad M(Nov 2019) Crops and Drought. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0025265]