Drought is one of the major environmental factors limiting the productivity of agricultural crops worldwide, with devastating economical and sociological impacts. Climate models have indicated that drought conditions will become more prevalent due to long-term effects of global warming, emphasizing the urgent need to develop adaptive agricultural strategies for a changing environment. These range from changes in traditional management and agronomic practices to the development of transgenic crops with enhanced tolerance of drought and improved water use efficiency. Such transgenic crops will minimize drought-related losses and ensure food production for a growing population.
Recent research has shown application of cytokinins leading to significant improvement in the drought resistance in cotton, wheat, rice, maize, tobacco and turf grass. One of the research study on cotton found that application of cytokinins produced a 5% – 10% increase in the yield under water-reduced conditions. Further, tests determined that cytokinins didn’t hinder yields whether under fully irrigated or rainy conditions, making it safe for use in all-weather environments. Few patents have been filed related to this development and many researchers are working in collaboration with companies to successfully commercialize the PGR product. This latest application of PGRs in drought resistance can potentially increase demand for these products, especially in arid regions where water scarcity is a major hindrance in crop production.