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New Strategies for Drought Tolerance of Crops: Physiological, Biochemical, and Molecular Aspects

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Plant Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2023) | Viewed by 4244

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Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, Division of Pharmacology, University of Brescia, 25123 Brescia, Italy
Interests: secondary metabolites; ethnopharmacology; abiotic stress; abiotic stress tolerance; cannabis sativa; cannabaceae; medical marijuana; phytocannabinoids; CB1 receptor; cannabidiol; tetrahydrocannabinol; CB2 receptor; cannabinoids; cannabinoid receptor agonists; cannabinoid receptor antagonists; cannabinoid receptor modulators
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Climate change and population growth are set to pose increasingly serious challenges to world agriculture in the coming years. Drought is one of the most destructive abiotic stresses for crop productivity, affecting more than a third of the world's population. Furthermore, the water crisis afflicts human societies, affecting the economy and both human and animal health. FAO estimates indicate that drought resulted in a direct loss of nearly USD 30 billion for agriculture in developing countries from 2005 to 2015. Current agricultural systems are proving unsuitable for rapid and continuous climate change in every part of the world. Furthermore, the United Nations predicts that by 2050 the population could exceed 10 billion, with a consequent 60% increase in the demand for food. Therefore, it is essential to find strategies to improve the resistance and tolerance of plants to drought by identifying their physiological, biochemical, and molecular parameters.

The main objective of this Special Issue is to discuss new agronomic strategies adopted to improve the response of crops to water stress. Emphasis will be placed on the analysis of the physiological, biochemical, and molecular aspects associated with drought tolerance. The Special Issue is not aimed only at crops in the agronomic field, but also at other plants that have developed molecular mechanisms of resistance to water stress. Finally, there will also be space to discuss the molecular aspects associated with the contribution of the rhizosphere in improving the response to drought.

Prof. Dr. Andrea Mastinu
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • drought
  • water stress
  • agronomic crops
  • antioxidant capacity
  • chlorophyll pigments
  • stomatal density
  • biostimulants
  • plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR)

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

21 pages, 6865 KiB  
Article
Effect of Soil Drought Stress on Selected Biochemical Parameters and Yield of Oat × Maize Addition (OMA) Lines
by Tomasz Warzecha, Jan Bocianowski, Marzena Warchoł, Roman Bathelt, Agnieszka Sutkowska and Edyta Skrzypek
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(18), 13905; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms241813905 - 09 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 918
Abstract
Plant growth and the process of yield formation in crops are moderated by surrounding conditions, as well as the interaction of the genetic background of plants and the environment. In the last two decades, significant climatic changes have been observed, generating unfavorable and [...] Read more.
Plant growth and the process of yield formation in crops are moderated by surrounding conditions, as well as the interaction of the genetic background of plants and the environment. In the last two decades, significant climatic changes have been observed, generating unfavorable and harmful impacts on plant development. Drought stress can be considered one of the most dangerous environmental factors affecting the life cycle of plants, reducing biomass production and, finally, the yield. Plants can respond to water deficit in a wide range, which depends on the species, genetic variability within the species, the plant’s ontogenesis stage, the intensity of the stress, and other potential stress factors. In plants, it is possible to observe hybrids between different taxa that certain traits adopted to tolerate stress conditions better than the parent plants. Oat × maize addition (OMA) plants are good examples of hybrids generated via wide crossing. They can exhibit morphological, physiological, and biochemical variations implemented by the occurrence of extra chromosomes of maize, as well as the interaction of maize and oat chromatin. The initial goal of the study was to identify OMA lines among plants produced by wide crossing with maize. The main goal was to investigate differences in OMA lines according to the Excised Leaf Water Loss (ELWL) test and to identify specific biochemical changes and agronomic traits under optimal water conditions and soil drought. Additionally, detection of any potential alterations that are stable in F2 and F3 generations. The aforementioned outcomes were the basis for the selection of OMA lines that tolerate growth in an environment with limited water availability. The molecular analysis indicated 12.5% OMA lines among all tested descendants of wide oat-maize crossing. The OMA lines significantly differ according to ELWL test results, which implies some anatomical and physiological adaptation to water loss from tissues. On the first day of drought, plants possessed 34% more soluble sugars compared to control plants. On the fourteen day of drought, the amount of soluble sugars was reduced by 41.2%. A significant increase of phenolic compounds was observed in the fourteen day of drought, an average of 6%, even up to 57% in line 9. Soil drought substantially reduced stem biomass, grains number, and mass per plant. Lower water loss revealed by results of the ELWL test correlated with the high yield of OMA lines. Phenolic compound content might be used as a biochemical indicator of plant drought tolerance since there was a significant correlation with the high yield of plants subjected to soil drought. Full article
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21 pages, 8735 KiB  
Article
The Biostimulant, Potassium Humate Ameliorates Abiotic Stress in Arabidopsis thaliana by Increasing Starch Availability
by Patricia Benito, Javier Bellón, Rosa Porcel, Lynne Yenush and José M. Mulet
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(15), 12140; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms241512140 - 28 Jul 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1494
Abstract
Potassium humate is a widely used biostimulant known for its ability to enhance growth and improve tolerance to abiotic stress. However, the molecular mechanisms explaining its effects remain poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of action of potassium humate using [...] Read more.
Potassium humate is a widely used biostimulant known for its ability to enhance growth and improve tolerance to abiotic stress. However, the molecular mechanisms explaining its effects remain poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of action of potassium humate using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We demonstrated that a formulation of potassium humate effectively increased the fresh weight accumulation of Arabidopsis plants under normal conditions, salt stress (sodium or lithium chloride), and particularly under osmotic stress (mannitol). Interestingly, plants treated with potassium humate exhibited a reduced antioxidant response and lower proline accumulation, while maintaining photosynthetic activity under stress conditions. The observed sodium and osmotic tolerance induced by humate was not accompanied by increased potassium accumulation. Additionally, metabolomic analysis revealed that potassium humate increased maltose levels under control conditions but decreased levels of fructose. However, under stress, both maltose and glucose levels decreased, suggesting changes in starch utilization and an increase in glycolysis. Starch concentration measurements in leaves showed that plants treated with potassium humate accumulated less starch under control conditions, while under stress, they accumulated starch to levels similar to or higher than control plants. Taken together, our findings suggest that the molecular mechanism underlying the abiotic stress tolerance conferred by potassium humate involves its ability to alter starch content under normal growth conditions and under salt or osmotic stress. Full article
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16 pages, 2648 KiB  
Article
Physiological and Biochemical Responses of Solanum lycopersicum L. to Benzo[a]pyrene Contaminated Soils
by Marina Voloshina, Vishnu D. Rajput, Natalia Chernikova, Tatiana Minkina, Evgeniy Vechkanov, Saglara Mandzhieva, Mark Voloshin, Maria Krepakova, Tamara Dudnikova, Svetlana Sushkova and Andrey Plotnikov
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(4), 3741; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms24043741 - 13 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1301
Abstract
Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is noted as one of the main cancer-causing pollutants in human beings and may damage the development of crop plants. The present work was designed to explore more insights into the toxic effects of BaP on Solanum lycopersicum L. at various [...] Read more.
Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is noted as one of the main cancer-causing pollutants in human beings and may damage the development of crop plants. The present work was designed to explore more insights into the toxic effects of BaP on Solanum lycopersicum L. at various doses (20, 40, and 60 MPC) spiked in Haplic Chernozem. A dose-dependent response in phytotoxicity were noted, especially in the biomass of the roots and shoots, at doses of 40 and 60 MPC BaP and the accumulation of BaP in S. lycopersicum tissues. Physiological and biochemical response indices were severely damaged based on applied doses of BaP. During the histochemical analysis of the localization of superoxide in the leaves of S. lycopersicum, formazan spots were detected in the area near the leaf’s veins. The results of a significant increase in malondialdehyde (MDA) from 2.7 to 5.1 times, proline 1.12- to 2.62-folds, however, a decrease in catalase (CAT) activity was recorded by 1.8 to 1.1 times. The activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) increased from 1.4 to 2, peroxidase (PRX) from 2.3 to 5.25, ascorbate peroxidase (APOX) by 5.8 to 11.5, glutathione peroxidase (GP) from 3.8 to 7 times, respectively. The structure of the tissues of the roots and leaves of S. lycopersicum in the variants with BaP changed depending on the dose: it increased the intercellular space, cortical layer, and the epidermis, and the structure of the leaf tissues became looser. Full article
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