Drought is one of the most important environmental stresses affecting the productivity of most field crops. Elucidation of the complex mechanisms underlying drought resistance in crops will accelerate the development of new varieties with enhanced drought resistance. Here, we provide a brief review on the progress in genetic, genomic, and molecular studies of drought resistance in major crops. Drought resistance is regulated by numerous small-effect loci and hundreds of genes that control various morphological and physiological responses to drought. This review focuses on recent studies of genes that have been well characterized as affecting drought resistance and genes that have been successfully engineered in staple crops. We propose that one significant challenge will be to unravel the complex mechanisms of drought resistance in crops through more intensive and integrative studies in order to find key functional components or machineries that can be used as tools for engineering and breeding drought-resistant crops.


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