Drought Stress in Plants: An Overview

  • M. FarooqEmail author
  • M. Hussain
  • Abdul Wahid
  • K. H. M. Siddique


Drought is one of the major constraints limiting crop production worldwide. Crop growth models predict that this issue will be more severe in future. Drought impairs normal growth, disturbs water relations, and reduces water use efficiency in plants. Plants, however, have a variety of physiological and biochemical responses at cellular and whole organism levels, making it a more complex phenomenon. The rate of photosynthesis is reduced mainly by stomatal closure, membrane damage, and disturbed activity of various enzymes, especially those involved in ATP synthesis. Plants display a range of mechanisms to withstand drought, such as reduced water loss by increased diffusive resistance, increased water uptake with prolific and deep root systems, and smaller and succulent leaves to reduce transpirational loss. Low-molecular-weight osmolytes, including glycinebetaine, proline and other amino acids, organic acids, and polyols also play vital roles in sustaining cellular functions under drought. Plant growth substances such as salicylic acid, auxins, gibberellins, cytokinins, and abscisic acid modulate plant responses toward drought. Polyamines, citrulline, and several enzymes act as antioxidants and reduce adverse effects of water deficit. Plant drought stress can be managed by adopting strategies such as mass screening and breeding, marker-assisted selection, and exogenous application of hormones and osmoprotectants to seeds or growing plants, as well as engineering for drought resistance. Here, we provide an overview of plant drought stress, its effects on plants’ resistance mechanisms and management strategies to cope with drought stress.


Drought Stress Stomatal Conductance Relative Water Content Stomatal Closure Leaf Water Potential 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Abscisic acid


Arginine decarboxlase 2 gene


Maximum photosynthetic efficiency


Ascorbate peroxidase










Dehydration-responsive element/C-repeat


Dehydration-responsive element binding proteins




Electron transport chain






Glutathione reductase


Hydrogen pump ATPase protein


Hydrogen peroxide


Indole acetic acid




Leaf area index


Late embryogenesis abundant




Superoxide radicals


Single oxygen


Hydroxyl radicals


Oryza sativa RING domain-containing proteins






Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase




Polyphenol oxidase


Photosystem I


Photosystem II


Quantitative trait loci


Alkoxy radicals


Reactive oxygen species


Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase




Relative water contents


Salicylic acid




Superoxide dismutase


Arginine decarboxylase


Ornithine decarboxylase


S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase


Spermidine synthase


Spermine synthase


Carboxylation velocity of Rubisco


Water use efficiency


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Farooq
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • M. Hussain
    • 4
    • 5
  • Abdul Wahid
    • 6
  • K. H. M. Siddique
    • 3
    • 7
  1. 1.Institute of Plant NutritionJustus-Liebig-UniversityGiessenGermany
  2. 2.Department of AgronomyUniversity of AgricultureFaisalabadPakistan
  3. 3.The UWA Institute of AgricultureThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  4. 4.Department of AgronomyBahauddin Zakariya UniversityMultanPakistan
  5. 5.Department of Crop Science and BiotechnologyDankook UniversityChungnamSouth Korea
  6. 6.Department of BotanyUniversity of AgricultureFaisalabadPakistan
  7. 7.College of Food and Agricultural SciencesKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

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