• J. D. Bewley
  • J. E. Krochko
Part of the Encyclopedia of Plant Physiology book series (PLANT, volume 12 / B)


Productivity and geographical distribution of plant species are limited as much, if not more, by water stress than by any other environmental factor. Fully one-third of the exposed land mass is classified as arid or semi-arid while the remainder is subjected to seasonal or local variations in water supply. It is hardly surprising that a strong evolutionary impetus toward improved drought-resistance has resulted in a considerable array of adaptations at all levels of organization (ecological, morphological, physiological, and biochemical). Within this variety three basic strategies are recognizable: drought-evasion, drought-avoidance, and drought-tolerance (Cloudsley-Thompson and Chadwick 1964). Drought evasion (or escape) is seen most easily in the ephemeral annuals. Due to an abbreviated life-cycle these plants complete their vegetative growth and reproductive cycle during periods of moisture availability, surviving the intervening dry periods as desiccation-tolerant seeds. Drought-avoidance is achieved primarily through adaptations that retard water loss and/or increase water absorption. Plants in which these features are well-developed effectively forestall internal water deficits when exogenous supplies are scarce. Drought-tolerance is a feature of plants capable of experiencing protoplasmic dehydration without permanent injury. Except for the seed stage, this latter mechanism is poorly developed in the majority of higher plants.


Water Stress Resurrection Plant Severe Water Deficit Rapid Desiccation Slow Desiccation 
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.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. D. Bewley
  • J. E. Krochko

There are no affiliations available

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