Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 72, Issue 4, pp 673–689 | Cite as

General mechanisms of drought response and their application in drought resistance improvement in plants

  • Yujie Fang
  • Lizhong XiongEmail author


Plants often encounter unfavorable environmental conditions because of their sessile lifestyle. These adverse factors greatly affect the geographic distribution of plants, as well as their growth and productivity. Drought stress is one of the premier limitations to global agricultural production due to the complexity of the water-limiting environment and changing climate. Plants have evolved a series of mechanisms at the morphological, physiological, biochemical, cellular, and molecular levels to overcome water deficit or drought stress conditions. The drought resistance of plants can be divided into four basic types-drought avoidance, drought tolerance, drought escape, and drought recovery. Various drought-related traits, including root traits, leaf traits, osmotic adjustment capabilities, water potential, ABA content, and stability of the cell membrane, have been used as indicators to evaluate the drought resistance of plants. In the last decade, scientists have investigated the genetic and molecular mechanisms of drought resistance to enhance the drought resistance of various crops, and significant progress has been made with regard to drought avoidance and drought tolerance. With increasing knowledge to comprehensively decipher the complicated mechanisms of drought resistance in model plants, it still remains an enormous challenge to develop water-saving and drought-resistant crops to cope with the water shortage and increasing demand for food production in the future.


Drought resistance breeding Drought tolerance Drought avoidance Gene function Genetic engineering 



Research on drought resistance in the authors’ laboratory has been supported by grants from the National Program for Basic Research of China (2012CB114305), the National Program on High Technology Development (2012AA10A303), the National Natural Science Foundation (31271316), and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions.


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© Springer Basel 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement and National Center of Plant Gene Research (Wuhan)Huazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and PhysiologyYangzhou UniversityYangzhouChina

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