Drought special parts 7, 8. Don't know much biology


Next to articles 7 and 8 of the drought special in Science. Both are biology reviews. It’s all well outside my zone of knowledge, but there are accessible snippets for readers interested in the high-level ideas.

Gupta et al. discuss the way plants function under drought stress. I’d recommend heading straight for figure 4 and the summary therein:

Genetic strategies provide solutions to counteract drought and can be used to develop drought-smart crops. Natural allelic variations in plants can be selected to improve drought resistance and yield. Traditional breeding approaches have selected drought characteristics to obtain more-resistant crops. Advancements in gene mapping tools such as GWAS can explore the genetic diversity of drought resistance traits in natural alleles with nucleotide-level precision. Genetic engineering of drought response markers at the spatiotemporal scale and precise genome editing with tools such as CRISPR-Cas9 have opened new horizons for developing crops with improved drought resistance, without sacrificing yield. Emerging techniques such as optogenetics allow fine manipulation of cell- and tissue-specific responses to signaling and therefore increase growth and plant resistance to drought. Small peptides, hormone mimics, and receptor agonists can be used to design better agrochemicals and fine-tune drought resistance while preserving yield.

Then de Vries et al. zoom into the microbes. Again, this is too heavy for a mere hydrologist (at least this one). Here I’d suggest heading straight for figure 2 for some idea of the overall concepts.

During drought, direct interactions with plant growth–promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) induce plant drought tolerance, but these interactions break down under severe or continuing drought. After drought, different plant-microbial interactions are assembled, with the potential of affecting future plant and soil response to drought.