Fluctuations of the weather conditions, due to global climate change, greatly influence plant growth and development, eventually affecting crop yield and quality, but also plant survival. Since water shortage is one of the key risks for the future of agriculture, exploring the capability
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Fluctuations of the weather conditions, due to global climate change, greatly influence plant growth and development, eventually affecting crop yield and quality, but also plant survival. Since water shortage is one of the key risks for the future of agriculture, exploring the capability of crop species to grow with limited water is therefore fundamental. By using chlorophyll fluorescence analysis, we evaluated the responses of wild tomato accession Solanum pennellii
LA0716, Solanum lycopersicum
cv. Μ82, the introgression line IL12-4 (from cv. M82 Χ LA0716), and the Greek tomato cultivars cv. Santorini and cv. Zakinthos, to moderate drought stress (MoDS) and severe drought stress (SDS), in order to identify the minimum irrigation level for efficient photosynthetic performance. Agronomic traits (plant height, number of leaves and root/shoot biomass), relative water content (RWC), and lipid peroxidation, were also measured. Under almost 50% deficit irrigation, S. pennellii
exhibited an enhanced photosynthetic function by displaying a hormetic response of electron transport rate (ETR), due to an increased fraction of open reaction centers, it is suggested to be activated by the low increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS). A low increase of ROS is regarded to be beneficial by stimulating defense responses and also triggering a more oxidized redox state of quinone A (QA
), corresponding in S. pennellii
under 50% deficit irrigation, to the lowest stomatal opening, resulting in reduction of water loss. Solanumpennellii
was the most tolerant to drought, as it was expected, and could manage to have an adequate photochemical function with almost 30% water regime of well-watered plants. With 50% deficit irrigation, cv. Μ82 and cv. Santorini did not show any difference in photochemical efficiency to control plants and are recommended to be cultivated under deficit irrigation as an effective strategy to enhance agricultural sustainability under a global climate change. We conclude that instead of the previously used Fv
ratio, the redox state of QA
, as it can be estimated by the chlorophyll fluorescence parameter 1 - qL,
is a better indicator to evaluate photosynthetic efficiency and select drought tolerant cultivars under deficit irrigation.