Plants in nature are continuously exposed to several biotic and abiotic stresses. Among these stresses, drought stress is one of the most adverse factors of plant growth and productivity and considered a severe threat for sustainable crop production in the conditions on changing climate. Drought triggers a wide variety of plant responses, ranging from cellular metabolism to changes in growth rates and crop yields. Understanding the biochemical and molecular responses to drought is essential for a holistic perception of plant resistance mechanisms to water-limited conditions. This review describes some aspects of drought induced changes in morphological, physiological and biochemical changes in plants. Drought stress progressively decreases CO2 assimilation rates due to reduced stomatal conductance. It reduces leaf size, stems extension and root proliferation, disturbs plant water relations and reduces water-use efficiency. It disrupts photosynthetic pigments and reduces the gas exchange leading to a reduction in plant growth and productivity. The critical roles of osmolyte accumulation under drought stress conditions have been actively researched to understand the tolerance of plants to dehydration. In addition, drought stress-induced generation of active oxygen species is well recognized at the cellular level and is tightly controlled at both the production and consumption levels, through increased antioxidative systems. This review focuses on the ability and strategies of higher plants to respond and adapt to drought stress.
Key words: Drought stress, growth, yield, gas exchange, photosynthetic pigments, antioxidative system.
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