Special Issue "Plant Responses to Water-Deficit Stress"

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Physiology and Metabolism".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 29 February 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Tae-Hwan Kim
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Grassland Science Lab, Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Science, Chonnam National University, 77, Yongbong-ro, Bukgu, Gwangju 61186, Korea
Tel. +82-62-530-2126
Interests: Plant stress physiology & biochemistry; Nitrogen, Carbon, Sulfur metabolism in response to plant stress; Redox control; Source-sink relationship; Hormonal regulation of stress tolerance
Dr. Bok-Rye Lee
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Biotechnology Research Institute, Chonnam National University, 77, Yongbong-ro, Bukgu, Gwangju 61186, Republic of Korea
Tel. [email protected]
Interests: Environmental stress; ROS homeostasis; Hormonal interaction in stress responses and tolerance; Proline metabolism; Proteomics; Senescence; Plant signaling molecules

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Water deficiency is the major climatic factor limiting the annual production of forages, cereals, and other crops in temperate regions. It is estimated that 40–60% of the agricultural land around the world suffers from the lack of water. During prolonged periods of water deficit (e.g, drought), the decrease in water availability for transport-associated processes leads to changes in the concentrations of many metabolites, followed by disturbances in amino acid and carbohydrate metabolism.

Significant progress has been made to characterize water stress-modified metabolic pathways. For instance, drought-induced accumulation of compatible solutes, such as special amino acids (e.g., proline), sugars and sugar alcohols, glycinebetaine, and polyamines, has been suggested to be involved in osmotic adjustment, protecting the structure of enzymes and proteins, maintaining membrane integrity, and scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS). Drought-responsive proteins, such as antioxidative enzymes, pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins, lignification-related enzymes, as well as vegetative storage proteins, and their roles in stress response and tolerance mechanisms have been also extensively studied. Cultivar and/or genotypic variations in water and nutrient use efficiency under water-deficient conditions are considered important subject for management and breeding programs to improve water-deficit stress tolerance. However, the data regarding specific morphological and physiological responses to water-deficit stress have not always been consistent.

In the recent decades, drought-induced secondary metabolites (e.g., phenolics) synthesis and their roles in plant tolerance and defense systems have been elucidated. Extensive progress has been made to further understand the metabolic and/or signaling pathways in the regulatory mechanisms of drought-stress responses and resistance. These include, for example, metabolite and ROS interplay in transcriptional control, hormonal regulation of stress responses, phytohormone, metabolite, and stress cross-signaling, redox-sensing in hormone-modulated control, etc. However, many questions remain to be answered, for instance: “How do plants respond to water-deficit stress and/or ameliorate their water-deficit stress tolerance through sophisticated regulatory networks?”

Articles on recent advances in plant responses to water-deficit stress (original research papers, short communications, reviews, mini-reviews) are welcome. The scope of this Special Issue covers the entire range of pure and applied plant physiology, plant biochemistry, plant molecular biology, and related interdisciplinary aspects. Field trials and agronomic modeling works are also welcome.

Prof. Dr. Tae-Hwan Kim
Dr. Bok-Rye Lee
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • antioxidative mechanism
  • drought-induced specific proteins
  • hormonal regulation
  • genotypic variation
  • metabolic and signaling pathways
  • physiological responses
  • regulation of metabolites transport
  • redox homeostasis
  • stress perception and symptom development
  • stress tolerance mechanism
  • agronomic modeling

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Exogenously Applied Ascorbic Acid-Mediated Changes in Osmoprotection and Oxidative Defense System Enhanced Water Stress Tolerance in Different Cultivars of Safflower (Carthamus tinctorious L.)
Plants 2020, 9(1), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9010104 - 14 Jan 2020
Abstract
The present study was conducted to examine the effect of exogenously applied ascorbic acid (AsA) on osmoprotectants and the oxidative defense system in four cultivars (16171, 16183, 16207 and 16246) of safflower under well-watered and water deficit conditions. Water stress (60% field capacity) [...] Read more.
The present study was conducted to examine the effect of exogenously applied ascorbic acid (AsA) on osmoprotectants and the oxidative defense system in four cultivars (16171, 16183, 16207 and 16246) of safflower under well-watered and water deficit conditions. Water stress (60% field capacity) significantly decreased the shoot and root fresh and dry weights, shoot and root lengths and chlorophyll contents in all four safflower cultivars, while it increased the leaf free proline, total phenolics, total soluble proteins, hydrogen peroxide content and activities of catalase, superoxide dismutase and peroxidase enzymes. Foliar-applied (100 mg L−1 and 150 mg L1) ascorbic acid caused a marked improvement in shoot and root fresh and dry weights, plant height, chlorophyll and AsA contents as well as the activity of peroxidase (POD) enzyme particularly under water deficit conditions. It also increased the accumulation of leaf proline, total phenolics, total soluble proteins and glycine betaine (GB) content in all four cultivars. Exogenously applied AsA lowered the contents of MDA and H2O2, and the activities of CAT and SOD enzymes. Overall, exogenously applied AsA had a positive effect on the growth of safflower plants under water deficit conditions which could be related to AsA-induced enhanced osmoprotection and regulation of antioxidant defense system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Responses to Water-Deficit Stress)
Open AccessArticle
Potassium Application Improves Grain Yield and Alleviates Drought Susceptibility in Diverse Maize Hybrids
Plants 2020, 9(1), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9010075 - 07 Jan 2020
Abstract
Maize (Zea mays L.) is an important component of global food security but its production is threatened by abiotic stresses in climate change scenarios, especially drought stress. Many multinational companies have introduced maize hybrids worldwide which have variable performance under diverse environmental [...] Read more.
Maize (Zea mays L.) is an important component of global food security but its production is threatened by abiotic stresses in climate change scenarios, especially drought stress. Many multinational companies have introduced maize hybrids worldwide which have variable performance under diverse environmental conditions. The maize production is likely to be affected by a future water crisis. Potassium (K) is a well-known macronutrient which improves the performance of cereals under abiotic stresses. In this field experiment, we assessed the influence of soil applied K on the productivity of diverse maize hybrids grown under well-watered and drought stress conditions. The study consisted of three K levels viz., control (no KCl), KCl at 50 kg ha−1, and KCI at 75 kg ha−1 factorally combined with two irrigation levels (i.e., normal recommended irrigation, well-watered condition, and half of the recommended irrigation, drought stress condition) and eight maize hybrids. Irrigation was kept in main plots, potassium in subplot, and maize hybrids in sub-subplots. The results revealed that performance of the maize hybrids was significantly influenced by all three factors, and the interaction of irrigation with potassium and irrigation with hybrids was significant; results being non-significant for all other interactions. Potassium application improved yield traits and water productivity under both normal and water stress conditions but effect was more prominent under water stress conditions than normal conditions. Potassium application also alleviated drought susceptibility of all maize hybrids. In all cases, the performance of maize hybrids was maximum under potassium application at 75 kg ha−1. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Responses to Water-Deficit Stress)
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Open AccessArticle
Improved Drought Tolerance by AMF Inoculation in Maize (Zea mays) Involves Physiological and Biochemical Implications
Plants 2019, 8(12), 579; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8120579 - 06 Dec 2019
Abstract
The role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF, Glomus versiforme) in amelioration of drought-induced effects on growth and physio-biochemical attributes in maize (Zea mays L.) was studied. Maize plants were exposed to two drought regimes, i.e., moderate drought (MD) and severe drought [...] Read more.
The role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF, Glomus versiforme) in amelioration of drought-induced effects on growth and physio-biochemical attributes in maize (Zea mays L.) was studied. Maize plants were exposed to two drought regimes, i.e., moderate drought (MD) and severe drought (SD), with and without AMF inoculation. Drought at both levels reduced plant height, and chlorophyll and carotenoid content, thereby impeding photosynthesis. In addition, drought stress enhanced the generation of toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS), including H2O2, resulting in membrane damage reflected as increased electrolyte leakage and lipid peroxidation. Such negative effects were much more apparent under SD conditions that those of MD and the control, however, AMF inoculation significantly ameliorated the deleterious effects of drought-induced oxidative damage. Under control conditions, inoculation of AMF increased growth and photosynthesis by significantly improving chlorophyll content, mineral uptake and assimilation. AMF inoculation increased the content of compatible solutes, such as proline, sugars and free amino acids, assisting in maintaining the relative water content. Up-regulation of the antioxidant system was obvious in AMF-inoculated plants, thereby mediating quick alleviation of oxidative effects of drought through elimination of ROS. In addition, AMF mediated up-regulation of the antioxidant system contributed to maintenance of redox homeostasis, leading to protection of major metabolic pathways, including photosynthesis, as observed in the present study. Total phenols increased due to AMF inoculation under both MD and SD conditions. The present study advocates the beneficial role of G. versiforme inoculation in maize against drought stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Responses to Water-Deficit Stress)
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Open AccessArticle
Qualitative and Quantitative Differences in Osmolytes Accumulation and Antioxidant Activities in Response to Water Deficit in Four Mediterranean Limonium Species
Plants 2019, 8(11), 506; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8110506 - 15 Nov 2019
Abstract
Limonium is a genus represented in the Iberian Peninsula by numerous halophytic species that are affected in nature by salinity, and often by prolonged drought episodes. Responses to water deficit have been studied in four Mediterranean Limonium species, previously investigated regarding salt tolerance [...] Read more.
Limonium is a genus represented in the Iberian Peninsula by numerous halophytic species that are affected in nature by salinity, and often by prolonged drought episodes. Responses to water deficit have been studied in four Mediterranean Limonium species, previously investigated regarding salt tolerance mechanisms. The levels of biochemical markers, associated with specific responses—photosynthetic pigments, mono- and divalent ions, osmolytes, antioxidant compounds and enzymes—were determined in the control and water-stressed plants, and correlated with their relative degree of stress-induced growth inhibition. All the tested Limonium taxa are relatively resistant to drought on the basis of both the constitutive presence of high leaf ion levels that contribute to osmotic adjustment, and the stress-induced accumulation of osmolytes and increased activity of antioxidant enzymes, albeit with different qualitative and quantitative induction patterns. Limonium santapolense activated the strongest responses and clearly differed from Limonium virgatum, Limonium girardianum, and Limonium narbonense, as indicated by cluster and principal component analysis (PCA) analyses in agreement with its drier natural habitat, and compared to that of the other plants. Somewhat surprisingly, however, L. santapolense was the species most affected by water deficit in growth inhibition terms, which suggests the existence of additional mechanisms of defense operating in the field that cannot be mimicked in greenhouses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Responses to Water-Deficit Stress)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Wheat Straw as a Cover Crop on the Chlorophyll, Seed, and Oilseed Yield of Trigonella foeunm graecum L under Water Deficiency and Weed Competition
Plants 2019, 8(11), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8110503 - 14 Nov 2019
Abstract
The effects of water stress on fenugreek crops are well documented. However, little is known about how these plants respond to water deficits under a soil-mulching system when the surface is protected. Therefore, the current research aims to demonstrate the possibility of reducing [...] Read more.
The effects of water stress on fenugreek crops are well documented. However, little is known about how these plants respond to water deficits under a soil-mulching system when the surface is protected. Therefore, the current research aims to demonstrate the possibility of reducing the impact of water stress and weed competition on the fenugreek crop through the use of wheat residues as a cover crop on the soil surface. A field experiment was carried out during the winter season (2016–2017) using a split-plot design arrangement with three replicates. The experiments included four levels of water deficit, which consisted of a 40% depletion treatment as a control plot, and 50%, 60%, and 70% depletion from the field capacity (DFC) for the other studied fields. The subplot division consisted of mulching the soil with wheat residues. The results demonstrated that soil-mulching systems and a water deficit are able to impact the fenugreek yield of seed and oil. Additionally, soil mulching led to a decrease in weed density and biomass, chlorophyll content, and biological yield. Although high water deficit (70% DFC) led to yield and growth reduction, the use of wheat residue as a cover crop moderated the effect of a strong water deficit on plants and showed clear reduction of weed growth. Therefore, the results suggest that soil mulching can mitigate the adverse effects of water deficit by conserving soil moisture and decreasing weeds, which can be considered an acclimation mechanism under water-deficit conditions to avoid yield loss. Moreover, the allelopathic effects of wheat residue were observed on fenugreek crops subjected to irrigation after depleting 40% soil water moisture, but these effects disappeared within 90 days of sowing. We conclude that these results can help future agricultural planning and systems in order to increase productivity, reduce irrigation costs, and conserve soil quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Responses to Water-Deficit Stress)
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Open AccessArticle
Silicon Priming Regulates Morpho-Physiological Growth and Oxidative Metabolism in Maize under Drought Stress
Plants 2019, 8(10), 431; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8100431 - 20 Oct 2019
Abstract
Seed priming with silicon (Si) is an efficient and easy method to regulate plant tolerance against different abiotic stresses. A pot experiment was conducted to examine the Si-mediated changes in oxidative defense and some vital physio-biochemical parameters of maize under a limited water [...] Read more.
Seed priming with silicon (Si) is an efficient and easy method to regulate plant tolerance against different abiotic stresses. A pot experiment was conducted to examine the Si-mediated changes in oxidative defense and some vital physio-biochemical parameters of maize under a limited water supply. For this purpose, two maize varieties (Pearl and Malka) with different Si priming treatments (0, 4 mM, 6 mM) were grown under a control and 60% field capacity for three weeks. At 60% field capacity, significant reductions in plant growth attributes and chlorophyll contents were recorded compared with the control. The negative effects of drought stress were more severe for Malka compared with Pearl. Drought stress increased the malondialdehyde (MDA) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) contents, altered the activities of antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), and catalase (CAT)), and triggered the accumulation of soluble sugars, glycine betaine, proline, and phenolics contents. Nevertheless, seed priming with silicon at 4 or 6 mM was effective in alleviating the detrimental effects of drought stress in both cultivars. Si priming particularly at 6 mM significantly enhanced the shoot and root lengths as well as their biomass and improved the levels of photosynthetic pigments. Moreover, Si treatments enhanced the activities of antioxidant enzymes (SOD, POD, and CAT) while it reduced the MDA and H2O2 contents in both cultivars under stress conditions. In crux, the present investigation suggests that Si priming mitigates the harmful effects of drought stress and contributes to the recovery of maize growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Responses to Water-Deficit Stress)
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Open AccessArticle
Identification of Factors Linked to Higher Water-Deficit Stress Tolerance in Amaranthus hypochondriacus Compared to Other Grain Amaranths and A. hybridus, Their Shared Ancestor
Plants 2019, 8(7), 239; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8070239 - 22 Jul 2019
Abstract
Water deficit stress (WDS)-tolerance in grain amaranths (Amaranthus hypochondriacus, A. cruentus and A. caudatus), and A. hybridus, their presumed shared ancestor, was examined. A. hypochondriacus was the most WDS-tolerant species, a trait that correlated with an enhanced osmotic adjustment [...] Read more.
Water deficit stress (WDS)-tolerance in grain amaranths (Amaranthus hypochondriacus, A. cruentus and A. caudatus), and A. hybridus, their presumed shared ancestor, was examined. A. hypochondriacus was the most WDS-tolerant species, a trait that correlated with an enhanced osmotic adjustment (OA), a stronger expression of abscisic acid (ABA) marker genes and a more robust sugar starvation response (SSR). Superior OA was supported by higher basal hexose (Hex) levels and high Hex/sucrose (Suc) ratios in A. hypochondriacus roots, which were further increased during WDS. This coincided with increased invertase, amylase and sucrose synthase activities and a strong depletion of the starch reserves in leaves and roots. The OA was complemented by the higher accumulation of proline, raffinose, and other probable raffinose-family oligosaccharides of unknown structure in leaves and/or roots. The latter coincided with a stronger expression of Galactinol synthase 1 and Raffinose synthase in leaves. Increased SnRK1 activity and expression levels of the class II AhTPS9 and AhTPS11 trehalose phosphate synthase genes, recognized as part of the SSR network in Arabidopsis, were induced in roots of stressed A. hypochondriacus. It is concluded that these physiological modifications improved WDS in A. hypochondriacus by raising its water use efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Responses to Water-Deficit Stress)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
The Mode of Cytokinin Functions Assisting Plant Adaptations to Osmotic Stresses
Plants 2019, 8(12), 542; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8120542 - 26 Nov 2019
Abstract
Plants respond to abiotic stresses by activating a specific genetic program that supports survival by developing robust adaptive mechanisms. This leads to accelerated senescence and reduced growth, resulting in negative agro-economic impacts on crop productivity. Cytokinins (CKs) customarily regulate various biological processes in [...] Read more.
Plants respond to abiotic stresses by activating a specific genetic program that supports survival by developing robust adaptive mechanisms. This leads to accelerated senescence and reduced growth, resulting in negative agro-economic impacts on crop productivity. Cytokinins (CKs) customarily regulate various biological processes in plants, including growth and development. In recent years, cytokinins have been implicated in adaptations to osmotic stresses with improved plant growth and yield. Endogenous CK content under osmotic stresses can be enhanced either by transforming plants with a bacterial isopentenyl transferase (IPT) gene under the control of a stress inducible promoter or by exogenous application of synthetic CKs. CKs counteract osmotic stress-induced premature senescence by redistributing soluble sugars and inhibiting the expression of senescence-associated genes. Elevated CK contents under osmotic stress antagonize abscisic acid (ABA) signaling and ABA mediated responses, delay leaf senescence, reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS) damage and lipid peroxidation, improve plant growth, and ameliorate osmotic stress adaptability in plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Responses to Water-Deficit Stress)
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Open AccessReview
Melatonin Mediated Regulation of Drought Stress: Physiological and Molecular Aspects
Plants 2019, 8(7), 190; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8070190 - 26 Jun 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Drought stress adversely effects physiological and biochemical processes of plants, leading to a reduction in plant productivity. Plants try to protect themselves via activation of their internal defense system, but severe drought causes dysfunction of this defense system. The imbalance between generation and [...] Read more.
Drought stress adversely effects physiological and biochemical processes of plants, leading to a reduction in plant productivity. Plants try to protect themselves via activation of their internal defense system, but severe drought causes dysfunction of this defense system. The imbalance between generation and scavenging of reactive oxygen species (ROS) leads to oxidative stress. Melatonin, a multifunctional molecule, has the potential to protect plants from the adverse effects of drought stress by enhancing the ROS scavenging efficiency. It helps in protection of photosynthetic apparatus and reduction of drought induced oxidative stress. Melatonin regulates plant processes at a molecular level, which results in providing better resistance against drought stress. In this review, the authors have discussed various physiological and molecular aspects regulated by melatonin in plants under drought conditions, along with their underlying mechanisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Responses to Water-Deficit Stress)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Foliar pre-treatment with abscisic acid enhances olive tree drought adaptability
Authors: Cátia Brito1, Lia Dinis1, Helena Ferreira1, José Moutinho-Pereira1, Carlos M. Correia1
Affiliation: 1 CITAB - Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, 5000-801 Vila Real, Portugal *Corresponding author: Carlos M. Correia e-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: Water is the most limiting factor for plants distribution, survival and agricultural productivity in the Mediterranean region. Although olive tree (Olea europaea L.) is a well-adapted species to drought prone environments, water deficit has negative repercussions on its physiological and biochemical pathways. Due to the abscisic acid (ABA) role in regulating plant water relations, in this study was evaluated how a previous ABA foliar application affects the drought and recovery responses of young olive plants. The results showed that ABA application retarded the drought effects on stomatal conductance and, consequently, on photosynthesis at the mid-term. At the same time, pre-treated plants had better water status, along with higher soluble sugars accumulation and lower signals of oxidative stress in leaves. Exogenous ABA also improved photosynthesis recovery and metabolites stabilization upon rewatering. Finally, ABA optimized minerals allocation and improved whole-plant biomass accumulation and water use efficiency. In conclusion, ABA pre-treatment enhances olive tree drought adaptability, including drought tolerance and recovery capacity.

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