Russian Journal of Plant Physiology

, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 424–432 | Cite as

Response of Photosynthesis in Maize to Drought and Re-Watering

  • J. Liu
  • Y. Y. Guo
  • Y. W. Bai
  • H. J. Li
  • J. Q. Xue
  • R. H. ZhangEmail author


The mechanism by which photosynthetic adaptation occurs in maize (Zea mays L.) during both drought and the subsequent recovery after re-watering is currently unknown. To elucidate this mechanism, two maize cultivars (drought tolerant SD609 and drought sensitive SD902) were subjected to an eight-day drought, followed by re-watering for four days. The photosynthetic electron transport rates and related gene expression were measured in both cultivars. Compared to control plants, progressive drought stress significantly decreased electron transport rates at the donor and acceptor sides of PSI and PSII in SD902, and of PSII in SD609. Meanwhile, the expression of cab, psbP, psbA, psbD, petA, and petB genes involved in electron transport system were significantly down-regulated in both cultivars, particularly in the SD902. Moreover, while expression of psaA and psaB genes encoding PSI was down-regulated in SD902, there were no changes in SD609 during drought stress. After re-watering, measured fluorescence parameters and key photosynthesis-related gene expression levels returned to near control values in SD609, but not in SD902. This finding indicated that SD609 was characterized by reversible down-regulation of PSII, while in SD902, an impairment occurred in two photosystems, and such coordination between PSII and PSI contributed to drought tolerance in SD609. Overall, the higher drought tolerance and rapid recovery capability of SD609 were associated with more effective self-regulation of photochemical activities and photosynthesis-related gene expression, which appears to represent a critical adaptive mechanism to withstand and survive the rapidly changing climate.


Zea mays drought re-watering JIP-test gene expression 



This study was founded by National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFD0300304); National Modern Agricultural Technology and Industry System (project no. CARS-02-64).


The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. This article does not contain any studies involving animals or human participants performed by any of the authors.


  1. 1.
    Flexas, J., Drought-inhibition of photosynthesis in C3 plants stomatal and non-stomatal limitations revisited, Ann. Bot., 2002, vol. 89, pp. 183–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kalaji, H.N., Jajoo, A., Oukarroum, A., Brestic, M., Zivcak, M., Samborska, I.A., Cetner, M.D., Łukasik, I., Goltsev, V., and Ladle, R.J., Chlorophyll a fluorescence as a tool to monitor physiological status of plants under abiotic stress conditions, Acta Physiol. Plant., 2016, vol. 38: 102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Farooq, M., Wahid, A., Kobayashi, N., Fujita, D., and Basra, S.M.A., Plant drought stress, effects, mechanisms and management, Agron. Sustain. Dev., 2009, vol. 29, pp. 185–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Tezara, W., Marin, O., Rengifo, E., Martinez, D., and Herrera, A., Photosynthesis and photoinhibition in two xerophytic shrubs during drought, Photosynthetica, 2005, vol. 43, pp. 37–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Strasser, R.J., Tsimilli-Michael, M., Qiang, S., and Goltsev, V., Simultaneous in vivo recording of prompt and delayed fluorescence and 820-nm reflection changes during drying and after rehydration of the resurrection plant Haberlea rhodopensis, Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 2010, vol. 1797, pp. 1313–1326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Goltsev, V., Zaharieva, I., Chernev, P., Kouzmanova, M., Kalaji, M.H., Yordanov, I., Krasteva, V., Alexandrov, V., Stefanov, D., Allakhverdiev, I.S., and Strasser, R.J., Drought-induced modifications of photosynthetic electron transport in intact leaves: analysis and use of neural networks as a tool for a rapid non-invasive estimation, Bioc-him. Biophys. Acta—Biomembranes, 2012, vol. 1817, pp. 1490–1498.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Li, P. and Ma, F., Different effects of light irradiation on the photosynthetic electron transport chain during apple tree leaf dehydration, Plant Physiol. Biochem., 2012, vol. 55, pp. 16–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Han, X., Ren, J.J., Chen, T.T., Cui, M., Li, C.L., Zou, R.H., Zhang, Y., Liu, H.H., Deng, D.X., and Yin, Z.T., Effects of salinity on photosynthesis in maize probed by prompt fluorescence, delayed fluorescence and P700 signals, Environ. Exp. Bot., 2017, vol. 140, pp. 56–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Zivcak, M., Brestic, M., Drevenakova, P., Olsovska, K., Kalaji, H.M., Yang, X., and Allakhverdiev, S.I., Photosynthetic electron transport and specific photoprotective responses in wheat leaves under drought stress, Photosynth. Res., 2013, vol. 117, pp. 529–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Yuan, S., Liu, W.J., Zhang, N.H., Zhang, N.H., Wang, M.B., Liang, H.G., and Lin, H.H., Effects of water stress on major photosystem II gene expression and protein metabolism in barley leaves, Physiol. Plant., 2005, vol. 125, pp. 464–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Haider, S.M., Zhang, C., Pervaiz, T., Zheng, T., Zhang, C.B., Lide, C., Shangguan, L.F., and Fang, J.G., Gene regulation mechanism in drought-responsive grapevine leaves as revealed by transcriptomic analysis, bioRxiv, 2016.
  12. 12.
    Liu, W.J., Yuan, S., Zhang, N.H., Lei, T., Duan, H.G., Liang, H.G., and Lin, H.H., Effect of water stress on photosystem II in two wheat cultivars, Biol. Plant., 2006, vol. 50, pp. 597–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chen, D.Q., Wang, S.W., Cao, B.B., Cao, D., Leng, D.H., Li, H.B., Yin, L.N., Shan, L., and Deng, X.P., Genotypic variation in growth and physiological response to drought stress and re-watering reveals the critical role recovery in drought adaptation in maize seedlings, Front. Plant Sci., 2016, vol. 1241, pp. 1–6.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fang, Y. and Xiong, L., General mechanisms of drought response and their application in drought resistance improvement in plant, Cell Mol. Life Sci., 2015, vol. 72, pp. 673–689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Lu, H.D., Xue, J.Q., and Guo, D.W., Efficacy of planting date adjustment as a cultivation strategy to cope with drought stress and increase rainfed maize yield and water-use efficiency, Agric. Water Manag., 2017, vol. 179, pp. 227–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Efeoglu, B., Ekmekci, Y., and Cicek, N., Physiological responses of three maize cultivars to drought stress and recovery, S. Afr. J. Bot., 2009, vol. 75, pp. 34–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Aroca, R., Irigoyen, J.J., and Sánchez-Díaz, M., Drought enhances maize chilling tolerance. II. Photosynthetic traits and protective mechanisms against oxidative stress, Physiol. Plant., 2003, vol. 117, pp. 540–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Voronin, P.Yu., Rakhmankulova, Z.F., Maevskaya, S.N., Nikolaeva, M.K., and Shuiskaya, E.V., Changes in photosynthesis caused by adaptation of maize seedlings to short-term drought, Russ. J. Plant Physiol., 2014, vol. 61, pp. 131–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Li, L., Li, X.Y., Xu, X.W., Lin, L.S., and Zeng, F.J., Effects of high temperature on the chlorophyll a fluorescence of Alhagi sparsifolia at the southern Taklamakan Desert, Acta Physiol. Plant., 2014, vol. 36, pp. 243–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Strasser, R.J., Srivastava, A., and Govindjee, Polyphasic chlorophyll a fluorescence transient in plants and cyanobacteria, Photochem. Photobiol., 1995, vol. 61, pp. 32–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Livak, K.J. and Schmittgen, T.D., Analysis of relative gene expression data using real-time quantitative PCR and the 2–ΔΔCt method, Methods, 2001, vol. 25, pp. 402–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sun, J., Gu, J., Zeng, J., Han, S., Song, A., Chen, F.D., Fang, W.M., Jiang, J.F., and Chen, S.M., Changes in leaf morphology, antioxidant activity and photosynthesis capacity in two different drought-tolerant cultivars of chrysanthemum during and after water stress, ‎Hort. Sci. (Prague), 2013, vol. 161, pp. 249–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Chaves, M.M., Flexas, J., and Pinheiro, C., Photosynthesis under drought and salt stress: regulation mechanisms from whole plant to cell, Ann. Bot., 2009, vol. 103, pp. 551–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Oukarrouma, A., Madidi, S.E., Schansker, G., and Strasser, R.J., Probing the responses of barley cultivars (Hordeum vulgare L.) by chlorophyll a fluorescence OLKJIP under drought stress and re-watering, Environ. Exp. Bot., 2007, vol. 60, pp. 438–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ashraf, M. and Harris, P.J.C., Photosynthesis under stressful environments: an overview, Photosynthetica, 2013, vol. 51, pp. 163–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Xu, L.X., Yu, J.J., Han, L.B., and Huang, B.R., Photosynthetic enzyme activities and gene expression associated with drought tolerance and post-drought recovery in Kentucky bluegrass, Environ. Exp. Bot., 2013, vol. 89, pp. 28–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Neto, M.C.L., Silveira, J.A.G., Cerqueira, J.V.A., and Cunha, J.R., Regulation of the photosynthetic electron transport and specific photoprotective mechanisms in Ricinus communis under drought and recovery, Acta Physiol. Plant., 2017, vol. 39, pp. 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Duan, H.G., Yuan, S., and Liu, W.J., Effects of exogenous spermidine on photosystem II of wheat seedlings under water stress, J. Integr. Plant Biol., 2006, vol. 48, pp. 920–927.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Zhang, R.H., Zhang, X.H., Camberato, J.J., and Xue, J.Q., Photosynthetic performance of maize hybrids to drought stress, Russ. J. Plant Physiol., 2015, vol. 62, pp. 788–796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Wang, Y.W., Xu, C., Wu, M., and Chen, G.X., Characterization of photosynthetic performance during reproductive stage in high-yield hybrid rice LYPJ exposed to drought stress probed by chlorophyll a fluorescence transient, Plant Growth Regul., 2017, vol. 81, pp. 489–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Liu
    • 1
  • Y. Y. Guo
    • 1
  • Y. W. Bai
    • 1
  • H. J. Li
    • 1
  • J. Q. Xue
    • 1
  • R. H. Zhang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Agronomy, Northwest A&F UniversityYanglingP.R. China

Personalised recommendations