Biomarkers for grain yield stability in rice under drought stress

Giovanni Melandri, Hamada AbdElgawad, David Riewe, Jos A. Hageman, Han Asard, Gerrit T.S. Beemster, Niteen Kadam, Krishna Jagadish, Thomas Altmann, Carolien Ruyter-Spira, Harro Bouwmeester*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Crop yield stability requires an attenuation of the reduction of yield losses caused by environmental stresses such as drought. Using a combination of metabolomics and high-throughput colorimetric assays, we analysed central metabolism and oxidative stress status in the flag leaf of 292 indica rice (Oryza sativa) accessions. Plants were grown in the field and were, at the reproductive stage, exposed to either well-watered or drought conditions to identify the metabolic processes associated with drought-induced grain yield loss. Photorespiration, protein degradation, and nitrogen recycling were the main processes involved in the drought-induced leaf metabolic reprogramming. Molecular markers of drought tolerance and sensitivity in terms of grain yield were identified using a multivariate model based on the values of the metabolites and enzyme activities across the population. The model highlights the central role of the ascorbate-glutathione cycle, particularly dehydroascorbate reductase, in minimizing drought-induced grain yield loss. In contrast, malondialdehyde was an accurate biomarker for grain yield loss, suggesting that drought-induced lipid peroxidation is the major constraint under these conditions. These findings highlight new breeding targets for improved rice grain yield stability under drought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-683
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2020


  • Oryza sativa
  • Drought
  • leaf oxidative stress status
  • leaf primary metabolism
  • PLSR
  • reproductive stage

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Biomarkers for grain yield stability in rice under drought stress'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this