Physiological responses of wheat to drought stress and its mitigation approaches

  • Zahoor Ahmad
  • Ejaz Ahmad Waraich
  • Sajjad Akhtar
  • Shazia Anjum
  • Tanveer Ahmad
  • Wajid Mahboob
  • Osama Bin Abdul Hafeez
  • Terence Tapera
  • Maryke Labuschagne
  • Muhammad Rizwan


Drought is a polygenically controlled stress and a major agricultural risk that reduces crop productivity and limits the successful insight of land potential throughout the world. This review article has been divided into two parts, i.e., effect of drought stress on physiology of wheat and potential drought mitigation approaches. In the first part, physiological responses of wheat to stress were discussed. Cell membrane stability, relative water content, early maturity, decreased leaf area, small plant size, increased dry weight and root–shoot ratio, and the whole-plant transpiration rate response to enhanced atmospheric vapor pressure deficit are physiological traits associated with drought tolerance in wheat. Reduction of relative water content closes stomata and thereby reduces stomatal conductance. Osmotic adjustment improves drought tolerance by allowing cell enlargement, plant growth, and stomata to stay partially open and by maintaining CO2 fixation under severe water deficit. The wheat plant accumulates several organic and inorganic solutes in its cytosol to lessen its osmotic potential for maintenance of cell turgor. Drought affects photosynthesis negatively by changing the inner structure of chloroplasts, mitochondria, and chlorophyll content and minerals. Destruction of the photosystem II (PSII) oxygen releasing complex and reaction center can disturb production and use of electrons, causing lipid peroxidation of cell membrane through the production of reactive oxygen species. In the second part, drought mitigation approaches were discussed. Seed, drought, bacterial, and hormonal priming are common approaches used to lessen the effects of water deficit. Physiological trait-based breeding, molecular breeding, marker-assisted backcrossing, aerial phenotyping, water budgeting, and resource allocation are modern approaches used to develop drought tolerant wheat cultivars. Wheat genotypes produced as a result of a combination of all these methodologies will increase food security regarding the currently changing climate.


Aerial phenotyping Priming Root–leaf relations Water budgeting Resource allocation Osmolyte accumulation Chlorophyll Photosynthesis 


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Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zahoor Ahmad
    • 1
    • 4
  • Ejaz Ahmad Waraich
    • 2
  • Sajjad Akhtar
    • 3
  • Shazia Anjum
    • 4
  • Tanveer Ahmad
    • 5
  • Wajid Mahboob
    • 6
  • Osama Bin Abdul Hafeez
    • 7
  • Terence Tapera
    • 3
  • Maryke Labuschagne
    • 3
  • Muhammad Rizwan
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences (Botany)The Islamia University of BahawalpurBahawalpurPakistan
  2. 2.Department of AgronomyUniversity of AgricultureFaisalabadPakistan
  3. 3.Department of Plant Sciences (Plant Breeding)University of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa
  4. 4.Cholistan Institute of Desert StudiesThe Islamia University of BahawalpurBahawalpurPakistan
  5. 5.Department of HorticultureGhazi UniversityDG KhanPakistan
  6. 6.Nuclear Institute of AgricultureTandojamPakistan
  7. 7.Department of Horticulture, Subcampus BurewalaUniversity of Agriculture FaisalabadFaisalabadPakistan

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