Drought Stress Tolerance in Wheat: Omics Approaches in Understanding and Enhancing Antioxidant Defense

  • Mirza HasanuzzamanEmail author
  • Jubayer Al Mahmud
  • Taufika Islam Anee
  • Kamrun Nahar
  • M. Tofazzal Islam


Plants face various kinds of stresses in the changing environment. Among the environmental stresses, drought is one of the most devastating stressors due to its diverse negative effects on crop plants. Drought stress in plants is very complex as it occurs due to varying environmental conditions such as soil water scarcity, soil salinity, and high temperature. The latter ones are termed as physiological drought. Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) ranks first in the world’s grain production and is consumed as staple food by more than 36% of the world population. Wheat plant is highly sensitive to drought, especially at flowering and grain filling stages. Growth, photosynthesis, metabolic processes, nutrient assimilation, and yield of wheat plants remarkably decrease under drought. The responses of wheat to drought are varied at morphological, physiological, molecular, and biochemical levels. One of the most common consequences of drought is the disturbance of the balance between production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidant defense causing overaccumulation of ROS which induces oxidative stress. This happens due to closure of the stomata, CO2 influx, and decrease of leaf internal CO2 which direct more electrons to form ROS and enhance photorespiration. These ROS can incur direct damage to protein, lipid, and nucleic acid which can ultimately cause plant cell death. Enhancing the antioxidant defense system to mitigate the oxidative stress is one of the effective strategies to make the wheat plants tolerant to drought. It appears that plants synthesize or activate several molecules like osmoprotectants, phytohormones, signaling molecules, and antioxidants to protect themselves from drought-induced oxidative damages. Novel approaches for enhancing the antioxidant defense system to minimize the impacts of drought-induced damage in plants are prime targets of plant biologists. Several genes and their overexpression were found to confer drought tolerance in plants. Application of plant probiotic bacteria also enhances tolerance of wheat plants to drought. Recent advances in genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic studies on wheat under varying levels of drought generate useful information for designing drought-tolerant wheat. This chapter comprehensively reviews and updates our understanding on molecular mechanisms of adaptation of wheat plants to drought stress with special emphasis to antioxidant defense systems.


Abiotic stress Antioxidant defense Cereal crops Reactive oxygen species Water stress 



We are highly thankful to Tasnim Farha Bhuiyan and Mazhar Ul Alam, Laboratory of Plant Stress Responses, Faculty of Agriculture, Kagawa University, Japan, for their critical reading and formatting of the manuscript draft. The first author acknowledges Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for funding in his research. M. Tofazzal Islam is thankful to World Bank for funding through a HEQEP CP # 2071 to the Department of Biotechnology of BSMRAU, Bangladesh. We are also highly thankful to Mr. Md. Mosfeq-Ul-Hasan, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, for providing us several supporting articles. As page limitation precluded us from citing a large number of studies, we apologize to those whose original publications are therefore not directly referenced in this chapter. Special thanks to Tahsin Islam Sakif, Banani, Dhaka, Bangladesh, for linguistic editing of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirza Hasanuzzaman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jubayer Al Mahmud
    • 2
  • Taufika Islam Anee
    • 1
  • Kamrun Nahar
    • 3
  • M. Tofazzal Islam
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Agronomy, Faculty of AgricultureSher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Sher-e-Bangla NagarDhakaBangladesh
  2. 2.Department of Agroforestry and Environmental Science, Faculty of AgricultureSher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Sher-e-Bangla NagarDhakaBangladesh
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural Botany, Faculty of AgricultureSher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Sher-e-Bangla NagarDhakaBangladesh
  4. 4.Department of BiotechnologyBangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural UniversityGazipurBangladesh

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