Abiotic Stress in Agricultural Crops Under Climatic Conditions

  • Suarau O. Oshunsanya
  • Nkem J. Nwosu
  • Yong Li


Crop stress has been identified as one of the problems that threaten global food security. Crop stress is an injurious deviation from the normal physiological processes that result into a decline in crop yields. It could be due to biotic factors (biotic stress, i.e. insect pests and disease pathogens) or abiotic factors (abiotic stress, i.e. drought, flooding, radiation and nutrient deficiencies). Agricultural crops normally undergo series of physiological processes (photosynthesis, respiration, stomatal functions and nutrition) during developmental stages of their life cycles that are sensitive to environmental conditions. The stressed environmental impact on the crops during growth and development leads to biochemical and morphological modifications in plant species. This chapter details the predominantly occurring abiotic stresses of crops that are directly or indirectly associated with the disruption of the normal growth and developmental processes in crops. The effects of abiotic stress in plants range from the qualitative and quantitative changes in the synthesis of type of proteins in crops to the disruption of the flower bud formation and pollination process in plant, as well as impaired nutrient uptake resulting in poor crop yields. About 51–82% crop yield in world agriculture is lost annually due to abiotic stress. The mechanisms of the four principal abiotic stresses (temperature, water, radiation, nutrients, etc.) are presented in the chapter. An understanding of the mechanisms of abiotic stress in agricultural crops could help farmers to optimize the crop productivity under the changing climate. This chapter therefore focuses on causes of the abiotic stresses affecting world food crops, their effects and possible stress coping strategies to promote global food sufficiency.


Drought Temperature stress Heat stress Nutrient imbalance Climate change 



Abscisic acid




4-Carbon sugar compound




Carbon dioxide








Nucleic acids




Quantitative trait loci


Reactive oxygen species





The authors acknowledge the immense contributions of Mr. Akwarandu Augustine Udo and Mr. Anajekwu, Louis Obinayo of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria, for their remarkable resource support to the success of this chapter.


  1. Ahmad P, Prasad MNV (2012) Abiotic stress responses in plants: metabolism, productivity and sustainability. Springer, New York, pp 1–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akinci S, Losel DM (2012) Plant water – stress response mechanisms. In: Rahman IM, Hasegawa H (eds) Water stress. InTech Open Access, London, pp 15–42Google Scholar
  3. Alam SM (1999) Nutrient uptake by plants under stress conditions. In Pessarakli M (ed) Handbook of plant and crop stress, Second ed. rev. and exp. Marcel Dekker, New York, pp 285–313Google Scholar
  4. Al-Suhaibani NAR (1996) Physiological studies on the growth and survival of Medicago sativa L. (alfalfa) seedlings under low temperature. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Department of Animal and Plant Science, University of Sheffield, UKGoogle Scholar
  5. Arshad M, Sharoona B, Mahmood T (2008) Inoculation with Pseudomonas spp. containing ACC deaminase partially eliminate the effects of drought stress on growth, yield and ripening of pea (Pisum sativum L.). Pedosphere 18:611–620CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ashoka P, Meena RS, Kumar S, Yadav GS, Layek J (2017) Green nanotechnology is a key for eco-friendly agriculture. J Clean Prod 142:4440–4441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ashraf M, Berge SH, Mahmood OT (2004) Inoculating wheat seedling with exopolysaccharide-producing bacteria restricts sodium uptake and stimulates plant growth under salt stress. Biol Fertil Soils 40:157–162Google Scholar
  8. Beppu K, Ikeda T, Kataoka I (2001) Effect of high temperature exposure time during flower bud formation on the occurrence of double pistils in – “satohnishiki” sweet cherry. Sci Hortic 87:77–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bernacchia G, Furini A (2004) Biochemical and molecular responses to water stress in resurrection plants. Physiol Plantarum 121:175–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buragohain S, Sharma B, Nath JD, Gogaoi N, Meena RS, Lal R (2017) Impact of ten years of bio-fertilizer use on soil quality and rice yield on an inceptisol in Assam, India. Soil Res 56:49. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chetal S, Wagle DS, Nainawatee HS (1981) Glycolipid changes in wheat and barley chloroplast under water stress. Plant Sci Lett 20:225–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cole P, McCloud P (1985) Salinity and climatic effects on the yields of citrus. Aust J Exp Agric 25:711–717CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cramer GR, Urano K, Delrot S, Pezzotti M, Shinozaki K (2011) Effects of abiotic stress on plants: a systems biology perspective. BMC Plant Biology, 14 pp. BioMed Central LtdGoogle Scholar
  14. Dadhich RK, Meena RS, Reager ML, Kansotia BC (2015) Response of bio-regulators to yield and quality of Indian mustard (Brassica juncea L. Czernj. And Cosson) under different irrigation environments. J Appl Nat Sci 7(1):52–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dhakal Y, Meena RS, Kumar S (2016) Effect of INM on nodulation, yield, quality and available nutrient status in soil after harvest of green gram. Legum res 39(4):590–594Google Scholar
  16. Dupius L, Dumas D (1990) Influence of temperature stress on in vitro fertilization and heat shock protein synthesis in maize (Zea mays L.) reproductive systems. Plant Physiol 94:665–670CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Edmeades GO, Balaoos J, Lafitte HR (1992) Progress in selecting for drought tolerance in maize. In Wilkinson D (ed) In: Proceedings of the 47th annual corn and sorghum research conference, Chicago. December 9–10, 1992. ASTA, Washington, pp 93–111Google Scholar
  18. Egamberdiyeva D (2007) The effect of plant growth promoting bacteria on growth and nutrient uptake of maize in two different soils. Appl Soil Ecol 36:184–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ejiogu AO, Offor IR (2009) Assessment of the use of Vetiver Grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) in sheet erosion management in Imo State. In: Proceedings of the 9th global conference on business & economics (GCBE), October 16–17, 2009, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK. 25 pGoogle Scholar
  20. Ekanem UO, Adetimirin VO, Oyatomi OA, Abberton MT, Boukar O, Fatokun CA (2017) Screening of Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranean (L) Verdc.) accessions for seedling stage drought tolerance. In: Proceedings of the 20th symposium of the international association of research scholars and fellows, June 20–21 2017Google Scholar
  21. Gerakis PA, Guerrero FP, Williams WA (1975) Growth, water relations and nutrition of three grassland annuals as affected by drought. J Appl Ecol 12:125–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gobin A (2012) Impact of heat and drought stress on arable crop production in Belgium. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 12:1911–1922CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goda H, Sasaki E, Akiyama K, Maruyama-Nakashita A, Nakabayashi K, Li W, Ogawa M, Yamauchi Y, Preston J, Aoki K, Kiba T, Takatsuto S, Fujioka S, Asami T, Nakano T, Kato H, Mizuno T, Sakakibara H, Yamaguchi S, Nambara E, Kamiya Y, Takahashi H, Hirai MY, Sakurai T, Shinozaki K, Saito K, Yoshida S, Shimada Y (2008) The At Gen express hormone and chemical treatment data set: experimental design, data evaluation, model data analysis and data access. Plant J 55(3):526–542CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Gusta L (2012) Abiotic stresses and agricultural sustainability. J Crop Improve 26(3):415–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hartfield JL, Prueger JH (2015) Temperature extremes: effect on plant growth and development. Weather Clim Extremes 10:4–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hartfield JL, Boote KJ, Kimball BA, Ziska LH, Izaurralde RC, Ort D, Thomson AM, Wolfe DW (2011) Climate impacts on agriculture: implications for crop production. Agron J 103:351–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Herrero MP, Johnson RR (1980) High temperature stress and pollen viability in maize. Crop Sci 20:796–800CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hodges SC (2014) Soil fertility basics. North Carolina State University Press, Raleigh. 75 pGoogle Scholar
  29. Jenks M, Hasegawa PM (2005) Plant abiotic stress, Biological Science Series. Blackwell Publishing, Ames. 266 pCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kadir S, Sidhu G, Al-Khatib K (2006) Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassaduch.) growth and productivity as affected by temperature. Hortic Sci 41:1423–1430Google Scholar
  31. Kameli A (1990) Metabolic responses of durum wheat to water stress and their role in drought resistance. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Animal and Plant Sci. Dept., University of Sheffield, UKGoogle Scholar
  32. Karan R, Subudhi PK (2012) Approaches to increasing salt tolerance in crop plants. In: Ahmad P, Prasad MNV (eds) Abiotic stress responses in plants: metabolism, productivity and sustainability. Springer, New York, pp 63–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kaur S, Singh SP, Kingra PK (2017) Detection and management of abiotic stresses in wheat using remote sensing technique. Int J Curr Microbiol Appl Sci 6(8):616–628CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kim HY, Horie T, Nakagawa H, Wada K (1996) Effects of elevated CO2 concentration and high temperature on growth and yield of rice. II. The effect of yield and its component of Akihikari rice. Jpn J Crop Sci 65:644–651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kozlowski TT (1968) Water deficits and plant growth, vol I, Pp. 1-21. Academic press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Kumar M (2013) Crop plants and abiotic stresses. J Biomol Res Ther 3(1):125Google Scholar
  37. Kumar S, Meena RS, Pandey A, Seema (2017) Soil acidity management and an economics response of lime and sulfur on sesame in an alley cropping system. Int J Curr Microb App Sci 6(3):2566–2573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lobell DB, Schlenker W, Coasta Roberts J (2011) Climate trends and global crop production since 1980. Science 333:616–620CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Madhaiyan M, Poonguzhali S, Sa T (2007) Metal tolerating methylotrophic bacteria reduces nickel and cadmium toxicity and promotes plant growth of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.). Chemosphere 69:220–228CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Mantri N, Patade V, Penna S, Ford R, Pang E (2012) Abiotic stress in plants: present and future. In: Ahmad P, Prasad MNV (eds) Abiotic stress responses in plants: metabolism, productivity and sustainability. Springer, New York, pp 1–19Google Scholar
  41. Meehl GA, Stocker TF, Collins WD, Gaye AJ, Gregory JM, Kitoh A, Knutti R, Murphy JM, Noda A, Raper SCB, Watterson JG, Weaver AJ, Zhao Z (2007) Global climate projections. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  42. Meena RS, Yadav RS (2014) Phonological performance of groundnut varieties under sowing environments in hyper arid zone of Rajasthan, India. J Appl Nat Sci 6(2):344–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Meena H, Meena RS, Singh B, Kumar S (2016) Response of bio-regulators to morphology and yield of clusterbean [Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (L.) Taub.] under different sowing environments. J Appl Nat Sci 8(2):715–718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Meena RS, Meena PD, Yadav GS, Yadav SS (2017) Phosphate solubilizing microorganisms, principles and application of microphos technology. J Clean Prod 145:157–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mittler R, Vanderauwera S, Suzuki N, Miller G, Tognetti VB, Vandepoele K, Gollery M, Shulaev V, Van BF (2011) ROS signaling: the new wave? Trends Plant Sci 16(6):300–309CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Morgan PW, Drew MC (1997) Ethylene and plant responses to stress. Physiol Plant 100(3):620–630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Navari-Izzo F, Quartacci MF, Izzo R (1989) Lipid changes in maize seedlings in response to field water deficits. J Exp Bot 40(215):675–680CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Navari-Izzo F, Vangioni N, Quartacci MF (1990) Lipids of soybean and sunflower seedlings grown under drought conditions. Phytochemistry 29(7):2119–2123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Navari-Izzo F, Quartacci MF, Melfi D, Izzo R (1993) Lipid composition of plasma membranes isolated from sunflower seedlings grown under water-stress. Physiol Plant 87:508–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Niles M (2008) Sustainable soils: reducing, mitigating and adapting to climate change with organic agriculture. Sustain Dev Policy 9(1):19–23, 68–69Google Scholar
  51. Nwosu NJ, Okon PB (2012) Impacts of climate change on soil quality of tropical acid-sands. Unpublished B. Scproject. Department of Soil Science, University of Calabar, Nigeria, pp 44–52Google Scholar
  52. Palmer DP (2005) Agriculture in the developing world: connecting innovations in plant research to downstream applications. Proc Nat Acad USA 102(44):15739–15746CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Patakas A (2012) Abiotic stress – induced morphological and anatomical changes in plants. In: Ahmad P, Prasad MNV (eds) Abiotic stress responses in plants: metabolism, productivity and sustainability. Springer, New York, pp 20–39Google Scholar
  54. Pham TAT, Flood C, Vieira da Silva J (1982) Effects of water stress on lipid and fatty acid composition of cotton leaves. In: Wintermans JFGM, Kuiper PJC (eds) Biochemistry and metabolism of plant lipids. Elsevier Biomedical Press, Amsterdam, pp 451–454Google Scholar
  55. Quartacci MF, Sgherri CIM, Pinzino C, Navari-Izzo F (1994) Superoxide radical production in wheat plants differently sensitive to drought. Proc R Soc Edinburg 1028:287–290Google Scholar
  56. Rhodes D, Nadolska-Orczyk A (2001) Plant stress physiology. Encyclopedia of life science. Wiley, New York, pp 1–7Google Scholar
  57. Rodriguez L, Gonzalez-Guzman M, Diaz M, Rogrigues A, Izquierdo-Garcia AC, Peirats-Llobet M, Fernandez MA, Antoni R, Fernandez D, Marquez JA (2015) C2 – domain abscisic acid – related proteins mediate the interaction of PYR/PYL/RCAR abscisic acid receptors with the plasma membrane and regulate basic acid sensitivity in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 26:4802–4820CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Saravanakumar D, Samiyappan R (2007) ACC deaminase from Pseudomonas fluorescens mediated saline resistance in ground-nut (Arachis hypogea) plants. J Appl Microbiol 102:1283–1129CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Sato S, Peet MM, Thomas JF (2000) Physiological factors limit fruit set of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) under chronic, mild heat stress. Plant Cell Environ 23:719–726CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Schlenkera W, Roberts MJ (2009) Nonlinear temperature effects indicate severe damages to US crop yields under climate change. Proc Nat Acad Sci 106:15594–15598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Seyed YSL, Rouhollah M, Mosharraf MH, Ismail MMR (2012) Water stress in plants: causes, effects and responses. In: Rahman IM, Hasegawa H (eds) Water stress. InTech Open Access, London, pp 1–14Google Scholar
  62. Singh V, Nguyen CT, van Oosterom EJ, Chapman SC, Jordan DR, Hammer GL (2015) Sorghum genotypes differ in high temperature responses for seed set. Field Crops Res 171:32–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Sirari K, Kashyap L, Mehta CM (2016) Stress management practices in plants by microbes. In: Singh DP et al (eds) Microbial inoculants in sustainable agricultural productivity. Springer, New Delhi, pp 85–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sun L, Zhang M, Ren J, Qi J, Zhang G, Leng P (2010) Reciprocity between abscisic acid and ethylene at the onset of berry ripening and after harvest. BMC Plant Biol 10:257CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  65. Teveni M (2004) Plant responses to ultraviolet radiation stress. In: Advances in photosynthesis and respiration, vol 9. Springer, pp 605–621Google Scholar
  66. Valizadeh J, Ziaei SM, Mazloumzadeh SM (2014) Assessing climate change impacts on wheat production (a case study). J Saudi Soc Agric Sci 13:107–115Google Scholar
  67. Venkateswarlu B, Desai S, Prasad YG (2008) Agriculturally important microorganisms for stressed ecosystems: challenges in technology development and application. In: Khachatourian GG, Arora DK, Rajendran TP, Srivastava AK (eds) Agriculturally important micro-organisms, vol 1. Academic World, Bhopal, pp 225–246Google Scholar
  68. Verma JP, Jaiswal DK, Meena VS, Meena RS (2015) Current need of organic farming for enhancing sustainable agriculture. J Clean Prod 102:545–547CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Vijayalakshmi D (2018) Abiotic stresses and its management in agriculture. TNAU Agritech, Coimbatore. 11 pGoogle Scholar
  70. Wahid A, Farooq M, Hussain I, Rasheed R, Galani S (2012) Responses and management of heat stress in plants. In: Ahmad P, Prasad MNV (eds) Environmental adaptations and stress tolerance of plants in the era of climate change. Springer, New York, pp 135–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wand SJE, Midgley GF, Jones MH, Curtis PS (2009) Responses of wild C4 and C3 grass (Poaceae) species to elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration: a meta-analytic test of current theories and perceptions. Glob Change Biol 5:723–741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Warrington IJ, Fulton TA, Halligan EA, de Silva HN (1999) Apple fruit growth and maturity are affected by early season temperatures. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 124:468–477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wiebbecke CF, Graham MA, Cianzo SR, Palmer RG (2012) Day temperature influences the male – sterile locus ms9 in soybean. Crop Sci 52:1503–1510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wilkinson S, Davies WJ (2009) Drought, ozone, ABA and Ethylene: new insights from cell to plant to community. Plant Cell Environ 33:510–525CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Wilson RF, Burke JJ, Quisenberry JE (1987) Plant morphological and biochemical responses to field water deficits. II. Responses of leaf glycerolipid composition in cotton. Plant Physiol 84:251–254CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  76. Yadav GS, Lal R, Meena RS, Babu S, Das A, Bhomik SN, Datta M, Layak J, Saha P (2017) Conservation tillage and nutrient management effects on productivity and soil carbon sequestration under double cropping of rice in North Eastern Region of India. Ecol India.
  77. Yamaguchi-Shinozaki K, Shinozaki K (2006) Transcriptional regulatory networks in cellular responses and tolerance to dehydration and cold stresses. Ann Rev Plant Biol 57:781–803CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Zhu J (2016) Abiotic signaling and response in plants. Plant Cell 167:313–324Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suarau O. Oshunsanya
    • 1
  • Nkem J. Nwosu
    • 1
  • Yong Li
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AgronomyUniversity of IbadanIbadanNigeria
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Agro-Environment and Agro-Product SafetyGuangxi UniversityNanningChina

Personalised recommendations