Developing drought tolerant crops

Sundaram Kuppu, Guoxin Shen, Paxton Payton, Hong Zhang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Drought stress is a major environmental factor that limits food production in the world. With the temperature on the earth increasing due to climate change, drought will become a more severe problem for many countries including China, India, and most parts of Africa. Providing enough food to the growing world population will be a major challenge that we will have to face. Traditional breeding had been successful in developing drought tolerant crops in the last several decades, however, it is becoming more difficult to develop drought tolerant crops by this approach due to limited access to the drought tolerant genes in the natural populations of crops and due to its time-consuming process. In contrast, the rapid progress made in plant genomics research and in plant biotechnology research has opened up new possibilities in creating drought tolerant crops through genetic engineering. Among the many successful experiments conducted in laboratories and in the field, two approaches appear to be very promising. One involves increasing activity of a vacuolar membrane-bound proton pump, which leads to increased drought tolerance and salt tolerance in transgenic plants. The other involves increasing cytokinin production only under drought conditions, which dramatically increases drought tolerance in transgenic plants. Both approaches have been tested in greenhouse and field conditions and both appear to work in all plants that have been tested. It is hoped that these approaches will be translated into actual gain in agricultural production soon.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDroughts
Subtitle of host publicationNew Research
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9781621007692
StatePublished - 2013


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