The effect of drought and heat stress on reproductive processes in cereals.
As the result of intensive research and breeding efforts over the last 20 years, the yield potential and yield quality of cereals have been greatly improved. Nowadays, yield safety has gained more importance because of the forecasted climatic changes. Drought and high temperature are especially considered as key stress factors with high potential impact on crop yield. Yield safety can only be improved if future breeding attempts will be based on the valuable new knowledge acquired on the processes determining plant development and its responses to stress. Plant stress responses are very complex. Interactions between plant structure, function and the environment need to be investigated at various phases of plant development at the organismal, cellular as well as molecular levels in order to obtain a full picture. The results achieved so far in this field indicate that various plant organs, in a definite hierarchy and in interaction with each other, are involved in determining crop yield under stress. Here we attempt to summarize the currently available information on cereal reproduction under drought and heat stress and to give an outlook towards potential strategies to improve yield safety in cereals.