Response of Tea Plants to Drought Stress

  • Wenjun Qian
  • Jianhui Hu
  • Xinfu Zhang
  • Lei Zhao
  • Yu Wang
  • ZhaoTang Ding


The tea plant (Camellia sinensis L.) is an important economic crop that is widely cultivated in the tropics and subtropics of Asia. As tea plants are a rain-fed perennial crop, both excessive soil moisture and water deficit can cause water stress in the plants. The most common water stress encountered is moisture deficit, known as drought stress, one of the most adverse factors that severely impairs tea plant growth and development, and limits its distribution, performance, yield, and quality. However, few studies have systematically reported the effects of water stress, especially drought stress, on the tea plant. In this chapter, therefore, we review the current state of drought stress and its progress in tea plants, with the aim being to explore the various morphological, physiological, biochemical, and molecular responses to such stress found in this species. Previous studies have demonstrated some key features in cultivated tea plants challenged by drought stress, such as (1) deep root systems, smaller and succulent leaves, and thickening of cuticle and palisade tissue; (2) water deficit, impairment in photosynthesis and respiration, stomatal closure, reduction of carbohydrate synthesis, acceleration of proteolysis, changes in lipid components in the normal cell wall structure; (3) protein denaturation of the plant tissues constituents, protoplast condensation, and the loss of cell wall semi-permeability; (4) enhanced free radical content, antioxidative systems, and osmoprotectant contents; (5) changes in the contents of minerals required for nutrition, hormones, polyphenols, and amino acids; (6) and changes in the transcription levels of many regulatory and functional genes. Understanding these response mechanisms of tea plants to drought stress is essential for improving the drought resistance of these plants by carrying out appropriate strategies such as mass screening and breeding; marker-assisted breeding; and exogenous application of osmoprotectants and hormones to seeds, seedlings, or growing tea plants, as well as undertaking genetic engineering for drought resistance.


Camellia sinensis Dought stress Morphological response Physiological response Biochemical responses Molecular response 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenjun Qian
    • 1
  • Jianhui Hu
    • 1
  • Xinfu Zhang
    • 1
  • Lei Zhao
    • 1
  • Yu Wang
    • 1
  • ZhaoTang Ding
    • 1
  1. 1.College of HorticultureQingdao Agricultural UniversityQingdaoChina

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