Progress studies of drought-responsive genes in rice
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Rice (Oryza sativa L.), one of the most agronomically important crops, supplies staple food for more than half of the world’s population, especially those living in developing countries. The intensively increasing world population has put a great burden on rice production. Drought as one of the major limiting factors for rice productivity has challenged researchers to improve both the water management system and rice characteristics. Biotechnology has assisted researchers to identify genes that are responsive toward drought. This review consolidates the recent studies that expose a number of drought-responsive genes in rice, which are potential candidates for development of improved drought-tolerant transgenic rice cultivars. In addition, examples are provided of how various drought-responsive genes, such as transcription factor and protein kinase encoding genes, were explored to engineer rice plants for enhanced drought tolerance using transgenic approach. Furthermore, the involvement of various phytohormones in regulation of drought response as well as the complexity of drought-responsive networks, which is indicated by the crosstalks with other stress-responsive networks such as cold and salt stresses, will be discussed. It is hoped that by understanding how rice responds to drought, crop performance can be stabilized and protected under water deficit conditions.