High levels of antioxidants correlate with leaf growth in drought tolerant maize

Drought tolerance is a complex trait, and Avramova et al. show that there is more than one way to be drought tolerant. Specifically, they investigate the role of antioxidants in supporting leaf growth in several varieties of drought tolerant maize. As compared to the tolerant lines, drought sensitive varieties accumulate more reactive oxygen species, including H2O2 and malondialdehyde (MDA: a marker for lipid peroxidation) in the leaf growth zone. Interestingly though, in some of the lines (specifically, those obtained from Egypt) drought tolerance was correlated with elevated levels of antioxidant metabolites, whereas in the other lines (from Europe and South Africa) drought tolerance was correlated with elevated activities of antioxidant enzymes. These results demonstrate that drought tolerance is associated with preventing the accumulation of reactive oxygen species, but that there is more than one way to achieve it. Frontiers Plant Sci. 10.3389/fpls.2017.00084