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Physiological and Biochemical Responses of Maize to Drought Stress
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Drought is one of the most serious worldwide problems in agriculture. Transient droughts can cause death of livestock, famine and social dislocation. Meanwhile, certain agricultural regions have consistently low rainfall and rely on irrigation to maintain yield. In both circumstances, crop plants which can make the most efficient use of water and maintain acceptable yields will be at an advantage. Water is essential to plant life. In order to survive, plants need water as well as nutrients which are absorbed from the soil by the roots. Water is transported throughout the plant almost continuously to keep its vital processes working. Therefore the maize crop requires adequate water at all stages of its physiological development to attain optimum productivity. Further, similar to other cereal crops, there are critical growth stages during the life cycle when lack of soil moisture can greatly impact grain production and yield. Drought stress alone can account for a significant percentage of average yield losses and is one of the greatest yield reducing factors in maize production. There are two facets to maize drought resistance which are affordability of irrigation systems and increasing pressure on water resources from sectors other than agriculture. Methodologically, two different varieties of maize will be subjected to water stress conditions. The leaf samples will be collected for measurement of physiological and biochemical parameter responses to drought stress. Several instruments will be used in this study to test the physiological parameters, such as, Li Cor 6400X Portable Photosynthesis and Chlorophyll Meter SPAD 502. This study aims to assess the physiological and biochemical changes of maize during water stress conditions. The importance of this research is to discover the physiological and biochemical changes in maize in a drought environment. Maize will display water stress symptoms and changes in the physiological as well as biochemical properties. Maize is an important food crop for humans and also as animal feed in livestock production. Hence, farmers will be able to save cost in water usage for maize production when drought conditions are experienced. This research will be advantageous for farmers if it is possible to produce maize successfully under water stress condition. Additionally, it will also benefit countries which face water scarcity and dry regions whereby the farmers can use less water to plant maize and thus overcome food shortages. They will be able to maintain maize cultivation with less water usage where water scarcity occurs. The results and findings of the study can be an indicator for water stress studies in future such as water use efficiency in maize production.

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School of Sustainable Agriculture, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Beg Berkunci 2073,
88999 Kota Kinabalu

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Lum Mok Sam