35. Sugarcane: Physiological and Molecular Approaches for Improving Abiotic Stress Tolerance and Sustaining Crop Productivity

  1. Dr. Narendra Tuteja2,3,
  2. Dr. Sarvajeet Singh Gill2,4,
  3. Prof. Antonio F. Tiburcio5 and
  4. Dr. Renu Tuteja2
  1. Ashok K. Shrivastava and
  2. Sangeeta Srivastava

Published Online: 30 MAR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9783527632930.ch35

Improving Crop Resistance to Abiotic Stress, Volume 1 & Volume 2

Improving Crop Resistance to Abiotic Stress, Volume 1 & Volume 2

How to Cite

Shrivastava, A. K. and Srivastava, S. (2012) Sugarcane: Physiological and Molecular Approaches for Improving Abiotic Stress Tolerance and Sustaining Crop Productivity, in Improving Crop Resistance to Abiotic Stress, Volume 1 & Volume 2 (eds N. Tuteja, S. S. Gill, A. F. Tiburcio and R. Tuteja), Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany. doi: 10.1002/9783527632930.ch35

Editor Information

  1. 2

    International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Plant Molecular Biology Group, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi 110 067, India

  2. 3

    MD University, Centre for Biotechnology, Rohtak 124 001, Haryana, India

  3. 4

    Aligarh Muslim University, Department of Botany, Aligarh 202 002, Uttar Pradesh, India

  4. 5

    Universitat de Barcelona, Unitat de Fisiologia Vegetal, Facultat de Farmàcia, Av. Joan XXIII, S/N, 08028 Barcelona, Spain

Author Information

  1. Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow 226 002, India

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 MAR 2012
  2. Published Print: 14 MAR 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9783527328406

Online ISBN: 9783527632930



  • abiotic stress tolerance;
  • molecular approaches;
  • pregerminated setts;
  • ratoon crop;
  • sugarcane;
  • tillering


Sugarcane, an important cash crop, due to its long duration, faces vagaries of all the seasons, and it is rather impracticable to provide favorable conditions for all the critical stages, spaced far apart temporally. Furthermore, overexploitation of natural resources and human activities have made our ecosphere prone to abiotic stresses that affect growth and development, chemical composition, and sugar synthesis and its accumulation in sugarcane, and ultimately affect sugarcane/sugar productivity. They also aggravate certain other abiotic and biotic stresses and affect the availability of seed cane. To defend the technological gains attained so far in sugarcane and sugar productivity, and to augment them further to face challenges of abiotic stresses physiological, breeding, and molecular approaches are important.

Among physiological approaches, criteria for selection of varieties (or parents for use in breeding programs) for tolerance to abiotic stresses are important. For management of abiotic stresses, physiological principles such as inducing hardiness, increasing the age of crop at the advent of stress, training roots to go vertically deeper in the soil, reducing the heat load and preventing further water loss from the soil, the use of moisture absorbers in the soil (which make it available during drought), and nutrient management are important in managing drought-affected and rain-fed canes. Increasing the age of the crop at the advent of waterlogging/flood (so that it suffers relatively lesser damage), planting rayungans or pre-germinated setts, preventing water from entering root zone, improving waterlogged soils by incorporating organic bulk manures, and using certain nutrients impart tolerance to waterlogged conditions. Control of rhizospheric salinity, management of waterlogging, adjustment of the ridge direction, the use of pregerminated setts and the use of trash veins system of planting, the use of certain nutrients can effectively manage salt-induced stress. For low-temperature tolerance, for reducing post-frost losses, altering planting time, frequent postmonsoon irrigation, and use of nutrients such as Si are important. For improving sprouting of stubble buds and productivity of winter-initiated ratoons, avoidance of low temperature for the exposed stubble (by covering with trash, polyethylene, and soil), and certain biochemical interventions using plant growth-regulating substances and nutrients appear promising. Nutrient deficiencies developed under rain-fed and saline–alkaline conditions can be effectively managed by application of appropriate nutrient and organic matter in the soil. Silicates are useful in overcoming the effects of low temperature and toxicity of Al and Mn in the acidic soils.

Some Saccharum species and related genera possessing tolerance to abiotic stresses have been identified. Their use in breeding programs may lead to development of high yield, high sugar varieties tolerant to abiotic stresses. As in nature, more than one type of stresses often occur together or the prevalence of one stress may accentuate or aggravate the other, which further increases the losses, varieties possessing tolerance to multiple stresses will be desirable.

Some progress has also been made in molecular interventions for inducing tolerance to abiotic stresses in sugarcane. Genes and gene products induced during hypoxia/anoxia have been identified. Real-time RT-PCR profiling of EST clusters has helped in identification of several stress clusters showing higher expression levels under water deficit stress. Accumulation of osmolytes trehalose and proline also contributes to drought tolerance. Expression of heat shock proteins and dehydrins has a definitive role under high-temperature stress. Cold-inducible ESTs in sugarcane have shown induction of novel cold-responsive genes. There is a need to understand the mechanism of action of these stress-responsive genes as to how they help sugarcane to protect itself from various stresses.