The potential of the synthetic strigolactone analogue gr24 for the maintenance of photosynthesis and yield in winter wheat under drought: Investigations on the mechanisms of action and delivery modes

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Strigolactones (SLs) have been implicated in many plant biological and physiological processes, including the responses to abiotic stresses such as drought, in concert with other phytohormones. While it is now clear that exogenous SLs may help plants to survive in harsh environmental condition, the best, most effective protocols for treatment have not been defined yet, and the mechanisms of action are far from being fully understood. In the set of experiments reported here, we contrasted two application methods for treatment with a synthetic analog of SL, GR24. A number of morphometric, physiological and biochemical parameters were measured following foliar application of GR24 or application in the residual irrigation water in winter wheat plants under irrigated and drought stress conditions. Depending on the concentration and the method of GR24 application, differentiated photosynthesis and transpiration rate, stomatal conductance, leaf water potential, antioxidant enzyme activities and yield in drought conditions were observed. We present evidence that different methods of GR24 application led to increased photosynthesis and yield under stress by a combination of drought tolerance and escape factors, which should be considered for future research exploring the potential of this new family of bioactive molecules for practical applications.