Crop responses to drought and the interpretation of adaptation

Abstract

Drought is a multidimensional stress affecting plants at various levels of their organization. The effect of and plant response to drought at the whole plant and crop level is most complex because it reflects the integration of stress effects and responses at all underlying levels of organization over space and time. This review discusses some of the major aspects of crop response to drought stress which are relevant for plant breeding. Emphasis is given to whole plant aspects which are too often disregarded when conclusions are drawn from molecular studies towards the genetic improvement of crop drought resistance. Topics discussed are seedling emergence and establishment, plant phenology, leaf area, water deficit and assimilation, osmotic adjustment, the root and the formation of yield. The discussion is concluded with the interpretation of crop adaptation to drought conditions in its agronomic sense. Conclusions are drawn regarding plant breeding for drought-prone conditions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. 1.

    Angus JF and Moncur MW (1977) Water stress and phenology in wheat. Aust J Agric Res 28: 177–181

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Bartels D and Nelson D (1994) Approaches to improve stress tolerance using molecular genetics Plant Cell and Environ 17: 659–667

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Basnayake J, Copper M, Ludlow MM and Henzell RG (1994) Combining ability variation of osmotic adjustment among a selected range of grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) lines. Field Crops Res 38: 147–155

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Bidinger FR, Mahalakshmi V and Rao GDP (1987) Assessment of drought resistance in pearl millet (Pennisetum americanum (L.) Leeke). I. Factors affecting yields under stress. Aust J Agric Res 38: 37–48

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Bieleski RL (1993) Fructan hydrolysis drives petal expansion in the ephemeral daylily flower. Plant Physiol 103: 213–219

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Blum A (1988) Plant Breeding for Stress Environments. CRC Press, Boca Raton Florida 208 pp

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Blum A (1992) Selection for sustainable production in water-deficit environments. Internat Crop Sci I, Crop Sci Soc Am, Madison, pp 343–347

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Blum A and Ebercon A (1981) Cell membrane stability as a measure of drought and heat tolerance in wheat. Crop Sci 21: 43–47

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Blum A and Arkin GF (1984) Sorghum root growth and water-use as affected by water supply and growth duration. Field Crops Res 9: 131–142

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Blum A and Ritchie JT (1984) Effect of soil surface water content on sorghum root distribution in the soil. Field Crops Res 8: 169–176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Blum A and Johnson JW (1992) Transfer of water from roots into dry soil and the effect on wheat water relations and growth. Plant and Soil 145: 141–146

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Blum A and Pnuel Y (1990) Physiological Attributes Associated with Drought Resistance of Wheat Cultivars in a Mediterranean Environment. Aust Jour Agric Res 41: 799–810

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Blum A, Arkin GF and Jordan WR (1977) Sorghum root morphogenesis and growth. I. Effect of maturity genes. Crop Sci 17: 149–153

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Blum A, Golan G, Mayer J, Sinmena B and Obilana T (1992) The comparative productivity and drought response of semitropical hybrids and open-pollinated varieties of sorghum. J Agric Sci Camb 118: 29–36

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Blum A, Johnson JW, Ramseur EL and Tollner EW (1991) The effect of a drying top soil and a possible non-hydraulic root signal on wheat growth and yield. J Exp Bot 42: 1225–1231

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Blum A, Mayer J and Golan G (1988) The effect of grain number (sink size) on source activity and its water-relations in wheat. J Exp Bot 39: 106–114

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Blum A, Mayer J and Gozlan G (1983) Associations between plant production and some physiological components of drought resistance in wheat. Plant Cell and Environ 6: 219–225

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Blum A, Ramaiah S, Kanemasu ET and Paulsen GM (1990) Recovery of wheat from drought stress at the tillering developmental stage. Field Crops Res 24: 67–85

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Blum A, Shpiler L, Golan G and Mayer J (1990b) Yield stability and canopy temperature of wheat genotypes under drought stress. Field Crops Res 22: 289–296

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Blum A, Sinmena B and Ziv O (1980) An evaluation of seed and seedling drought tolerance screening tests in wheat. Euphytica 29: 727–736

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Blum A, Sinmena B, Mayer J, Golan G and Shpiler L (1994) Stem reserve mobilisation supports wheat grain filling under heat stress. Aust J Plant Physiol 21: 771–781

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Bolanos J and Edmeades GO (1991) Value of selection for osmotic potential in tropical maize. Agron J 83: 948–956

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Boyle MG, Boyer JS and Morgan PW (1991) Stem infusion of liquid culture medium prevents reproductive failure of maize at low water potential. Crop Sci 31: 1246–1252

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Byrne PF, Bolanos J, Edmeades GO and Eaton DL (1995) Gains from selection under drought versus multilocation testing in related tropical maize populations. Crop Sci 35: 63–69

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Casal JJ (1988) Light quality effects on the appearance of tillers of different order in wheat (Triticum aestivum). Ann Appl Biol 112: 167–173

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Ceccarelli S and Grando S (1991) Selection Environment and Environmental Sensitivity in Barley. Euphytica 57: 157–167

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Chandler PM and Robertson M (1994) Gene expression regulated by abscisic acid and its relation to stress tolerance. Ann Rev Plant Physiol and Mol Biol 45: 113–141

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Chaves MM (1991) Effects of water deficits on carbon assimilation—review article. J Exp Bot 42: 1–16

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Craufurd PQ, Flower DJ and Peacock JM (1993) Effect of heat and drought stress on sorghum (Sorghum bicolor). 1. Panicle development and leaf appearance. Exp Agric 29: 61–76

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Davies WJ, Tardieu F and Trejo CL (1994) How do chemical signals work in plants that grow in drying soil. Plant Physiol 104: 309–314

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Donatelli M, Hammer GL and Vanderlip RL (1992) Genotype and water limitation effects on phenology, growth, and transpiration efficiency in grain sorghum Crop Sci 32: 781–786

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Dwyer LM and Stewart DW (1987) Influence of photoperiod and water stress on growth, yield and development rate of barley measured in heat units. Can J Plant Sci 67: 21–34

    Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Elalaoui AC, Simmons SR and Crookston RK (1992) Allocation of photoassimilate by main shoots and nonsurviving tillers in barley Crop Sci 32: 1233–1237

    Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Farquhar GD, Wong SC, Evans JR and Hubick KT (1989) Photosynthesis and gas exchange. In: Jones HG, Flowers TJ and Jones MB (eds) Plants Under Stress, pp 47–69. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Flower DJ, Rani AU and Peacock JM (1990) Influence of osmotic adjustment on the growth, stomatal conductance and light interception of contrasting sorghum lines in a harsh environment. Aust J Plant Physiol 17: 91–105

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Garrity DP, Sullivan CY and Watts DG (1984) Changes in grain sorghum stomatal and photosynthetic response to moisture stress across growth stages. Crop Sci 24: 441–446

    Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Garrity DP, Vidal ET and O'Toole JC (1986) Manipulating panicle transpiration resistance to increase spikelet fertility during flowering stage water stress. Crop Sci 26: 789–795

    Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Grantz DA (1990) Plant response to atmospheric humidity. Plant Cell and Environ 13: 667–679

    Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Gupta AS and Berkowitz GA (1987) Osmotic adjustment, symplast volume, and nonstomatally mediated water stress inhibition of photosynthesis in wheat. Plant Physiol 85: 1040–1047

    Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Hall AE, Richards RA, Condon AG, Wright GC and Farquhar GD (1994) Carbon isotope discrimination and plant breeding Plant Breed. Rev 12: 81–113

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Hamblin J (1993) The ideotype concept: usefull or outdated? Internat. Crop Sci I, Crop Sci Soc Am, Madison, pp 589–597

    Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Havaux M (1992) Stress tolerance of photosystem-II in vivo — antagonistic effects of water, heat, and photoinhibition stresses Plant Physiol 100: 424–432

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Hendrix JH, Linden JC, Smith DH, Ross CW and Park IK (1986) Relationship of pre-anthesis fructan metabolism to grain numbers in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Aust J Plant Physiol 13: 391–398

    Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Henson IE and Mahalakshmi V (1985) Evidence for panicle control of stomatal behaviour in water-stressed plants of pearl millet. Field Crops Res 11: 281–290

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Johnson DA and Asay KH (1993) Viewpoint — selection for improved drought response in cool-season grasses. J Range Manage 46: 194–202

    Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Kahn TL, Fender SR, Bray EA and Oconnell MA (1993) Characterization of expression of drought and abscisic acid-regulated tomato genes in the drought-resistant species Lycopersicon-pennellii. Plant Physiol 103: 597–605

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    King RW and Evans LT (1977) Inhibition of flowering in Lolium temulentum by water stress: a role for abscisic acid. Aust J Plant Physiol 4: 225–233

    Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Koshkin EI and Tararina VV (1990) Differences in source-sink ratios in wheat and their relationship to grain yield and content of abscisic acid. Plant Physiol Biochem 28: 609–616

    Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Kriedemann PE (1986) Stomatal and photosynthetic limitations to leaf growth. Aust J Plant Physiol 13: 15–31

    Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Leuning R, Condon AG, Dunin FX, Zegelin S and Denmead OT (1994) Rainfall interception and evaporation from soil below a wheat canopy. Agr Forest Meteorol 67: 221–238

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Lopezcastaneda C, Richards RA and Farquhar GD (1995) Variation in early vigor between wheat and barley. Crop Sci 35: 472–479

    Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Lu ZM, Radin JW, Turcotte EL, Percy R and Zeiger E (1994) High yields in advanced lines of pima cotton are associated with higher stomatal conductance, reduced leaf area and lower leaf temperature Physiol. Plant 92: 266–272

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Mahalakshmi V, Alargarswamy G and Bidinger FR (1983) An association between flowering and reduced stomatal sensitivity to water stress in pearl millet (Pennisetum americanum (L.) Leeke. Ann Bot 52: 641–648

    Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Malik RS, Dhankar JS and Turner NC (1979) Influence of soil water deficits on root growth of cotton seedlings. Plant and Soil 53: 109–112

    Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Martin JH (1930) The comparative drought resistance of sorghum and corn. Agron J 22: 993–1003

    Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    McGowan M, Blanch P, Gregory PJ and Haycock D (1984) Water relations of winter wheat. 5. The root system and osmotic adjustment in relation to crop evaporation. J Agric Sci 102: 415–425

    Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Meyer G, Scmitt JM and Bohnert HJ (1990) Direct screening of a small genome: estimation of the magnitude of plant gene expression changes during adaptation to high salt. Mol and General Genet 224: 347–356

    Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Mian MAR and Nafziger ED (1994) Seed size and water potential effects on germination and seedling growth of winter wheat. Crop Sci 34: 169–171

    Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    Mita SK and Suzukifujii NK (1995) Sugar-inducible expression of a gene for beta-amylase in Arabidopsis thaliana Plant Physiol 107: 895–904

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Morgan JM (1977) Changes in diffusive conductance and water potential of wheat plants befor and after anthesis. Aust J Plant Physiol 4: 75–86

    Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Morgan JM (1983) Osmoregulation as a selection criterion for drought tolerance in wheat. Aust J Agric Res 34: 607–613

    Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Morgan JM (1992) Osmotic components and properties associated with genotypic differences in osmoregulation in wheat. Aust J Plant Physiol 19: 67–76

    Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    Morgan JM (1995) Growth and yield of wheat lines with differing osmoregulative capacity at high soil water deficit in seasons of varying evaporative demand. Field Crops Res 40: 143–152

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. 64.

    Morgan JM and Condon AG (1986) Water use, grain yield and osmoregulation in wheat. Aust J Plant Physiol 13: 523–532

    Google Scholar 

  65. 65.

    Morgan JM, Rodriguezmaribona B and Knights EJ (1991) Adaptation to water-deficit in chickpea breeding lines by osmoregulation—relationship to grain yields in the field. Field Crops Res 27: 61–70

    Google Scholar 

  66. 66.

    Nooden LD and Letham DS (1993) Cytokinin metabolism and signalling in the soybean plant. Aust J Plant Physiol 20: 639–653

    Google Scholar 

  67. 67.

    Oosterhuis DM and Cartwright PM (1983) Spike dIfferentiation and floret survival in spring wheat as affected by water stress and photoperiod. Crop Sci 23: 711–717

    Google Scholar 

  68. 68.

    Peacock JM, Miller WB, Matsuda K and Robinson DL (1990) Role of heat girdling in early seedling death of sorghum. Crop Sci 30: 138–143

    Google Scholar 

  69. 69.

    Pinter PJ, Zipoli G, Reginato RJ, Jackson RD, Idso SB and Hohman JP (1990) Canopy temperature as an indicator of differential water use and yield performance among wheat cultivars. Agric Water Manag 18: 35–48

    Google Scholar 

  70. 70.

    Quarrie SA (1993) Understanding plant responses to stress and breeding improved stress resistance—the generation gap. In: Close TJ and Bray EA (eds) Plant Responses to Cellular Dehydration During Environmental Stress. Current topics in Plant Physiology. Am Soc of Plant Physiol Series 10: 224–245

  71. 71.

    Read JJ, Asay KH and Johnson DA (1993) Divergent selection for carbon isotope discrimination in crested wheatgrass. Can J Plant Sci 73: 1027–1035

    Google Scholar 

  72. 72.

    Rees D, Sayre K, Acevedo E, Nava Sanchez T, Lu Z, Zeiger E and Limon A (1993) Canopy temperatures of wheat: relationships with yield and potential as a technique for early generation selection. Wheat Special Rep 10, CIMMYT, Mexico

    Google Scholar 

  73. 73.

    Reynolds MP, Balota M, Delgado MIB, Amani I and Fischer RA (1994) Physiological and morphological traits associated with spring wheat yield under hot, irrigated conditions. Aust. J. Plant Physiol 21: 717–730

    Google Scholar 

  74. 74.

    Richards RA (1992) Increasing salinity tolerance of grain crops—is it worthwhile. Plant and Soil 146: 89–98

    Google Scholar 

  75. 75.

    Rodriguezmaribona B, Tenorio JL, Conde JR and Ayerbe L (1992) Correlation between yield and osmotic adjustment of peas (Pisum sativum L.) under drought stress. Field Crops Res 29: 15–22

    Google Scholar 

  76. 76.

    Santamaria JM, Ludlow MM and Fukai S (1990) Contribution of osmotic adjustment to grain yield in Sorghum-bicolor (L) Moench under water-limited conditions. 1. Water stress before anthesis. Aust J Agric Res 41: 51–65

    Google Scholar 

  77. 77.

    Schnyder H (1993) The role of carbohydrate storage and redistribution in the source-sink relations of wheat and barley during grain filling—a review. New Phytol 123: 233–245

    Google Scholar 

  78. 78.

    Schussler JR and Westgate ME (1994) Increasing assimilate reserves does not prevent kernel abortion at low water potential in maize. Crop Sci 34: 1569–1576

    Google Scholar 

  79. 79.

    Sedgley RH (1991) An appraisal of the Donald ideotype after 21 years. Field Crops Res 26: 93–112

    Google Scholar 

  80. 80.

    Seemann JR and Sharkey TD (1987) The effect of abscisic acid and other inhibitors on photosynthetic capacity and the biochemistry of CO2 assimilation. Plant Physiol 84: 696–700

    Google Scholar 

  81. 81.

    Seemann JR, Downton WJS and Berry JA (1986) Temperature and leaf osmotic potential as factors in the acclimation of photosynthesis to high temp. in desert plants. Plant Physiol 80: 926–930

    Google Scholar 

  82. 82.

    Sharp RE (1990) Comparative sensitivity of root and shoot growth and physiology to low water potentials. Importance of root to shoot communication in the responses to environmental stress. British Soc Plant Growth Regulation, Oxford, Mon 21: 29–44

    Google Scholar 

  83. 83.

    Shimshi D and Ephrat J (1975) Stomatal behavior of wheat cultivars in relation to their transpiration, photosynthesis and yield. Agron J 67: 326–329

    Google Scholar 

  84. 84.

    Sinclair TR and Ludlow MM (1986) Influence of soil water supply on the plant water balance of four tropical grain legumes. Aust J Plant Physiol 13: 329–341

    Google Scholar 

  85. 85.

    Smucker AJM and Aiken RM (1992) Dynamic root responses to water deficit. Soil Sci 154: 281–289

    Google Scholar 

  86. 86.

    Snapp SS and Shennan C (1992) Effects of salinity on root growth and death dynamics of tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. New Phytol 121: 71–79

    Google Scholar 

  87. 87.

    Stewart GR (1989) Desiccation injury, anhydrobiosis and survival. 1989. In: Jones HG, Flowers TJ and Jones MB (eds) Plants Under Stress, pp 115–130. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  88. 88.

    Stockman YM, Fischer RA and Brittain EG (1983) Assimilate supply and floret development within the spike of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Aust J Plant Physiol 10: 585–594

    Google Scholar 

  89. 89.

    Tangpremsri T, Fukai S, Fischer KS and Henzell RG (1991) Genotypic variation in osmotic adjustment in grain sorghum. 2. Relation with some growth attributes. Aust J Agric Res 42: 759–767

    Google Scholar 

  90. 90.

    Tetteroo FAA, Peters AHL, Hoekstra FA, Vanderplas LHW and Hagendoorn MJM (1995) ABA reduces respiration and sugar metabolism in developing carrot (Daucus carota L.) embryoids. J Plant Physiol 145: 477–482

    Google Scholar 

  91. 91.

    Trewavas AJ and Jones HG (1991) An assessment of the role of ABA in plant development. In: Davis WJ and Jones HG (eds) Abscisic Acid Physiology and Biochemistry, pp 169–188. Bios Sci Publ Oxford UK

    Google Scholar 

  92. 92.

    Turner NC, O'Toole JC, Cruz RT, Yambao EB, Ahmad S, Namuco OS and Dingkhun M (1986) Response of seven diverse rice cultivars to water deficits. II. Osmotic adjustment, leaf elasticity, leaf extension, leaf death, stomatal conductance and photosynthesis. Field Crops Res 13: 273–286

    Article  Google Scholar 

  93. 93.

    Waters SP, Martin P and Lee BT (1984) The influence of sucrose and abscisic acid on the determination of grain number in wheat. J Exp Bot 35: 829–840

    Google Scholar 

  94. 94.

    Westgate ME and Boyer JS (1985) Osmotic adjustment and the inhibition of leaf root stem and silk growth at low water potentials in maize. Planta 164: 540–549

    Google Scholar 

  95. 95.

    White RH, Engelke MC, Morton SJ and Ruemmele BA (1992) Competitive turgor maintenance in tall fescue. Crop Sci 32: 251–256

    Google Scholar 

  96. 96.

    Wright GC and Smith RCG (1983) Differences between two sorghum genotypes in adaptation to drought stress. II. Root water uptake and water use. Aust J Agric Res 34: 627–636

    Google Scholar 

  97. 97.

    Zinselmeier C, Westgate ME and Jones RJ (1995) Kernel set at low water potential does not vary with source/sink ratio in maize. Crop Sci 35: 158–163

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Blum, A. Crop responses to drought and the interpretation of adaptation. Plant Growth Regul 20, 135–148 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00024010

Download citation

Keywords

  • Leaf Area
  • Drought Stress
  • Water Deficit
  • Plant Breeding
  • Plant Response