Morphological and molecular responses of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) lines to drought stress


1 Department of Biology, Urmia University, Urmia, Iran.

2 Department of Plant Breeding and Biotechnology, Urmia University, P. O. Box: 165, Urmia, Iran.

3 Department of Medicinal Plants, Shahid Bakeri Higher Education Center, Urmia University, Miyandoab, Iran.


Drought stress is a serious adverse factor limiting growth and productivity of sunflower. Evaluation of defense systems is important for producing resistant cultivars. In this study, some agro-morphological and molecular characteristics of six sunflower lines were evaluated under normal and irrigation at 40 and 60% of field capacity in randomized complete block design (RCBD). The results showed that drought stress affected the measured traits compared to the control. However, the lines showed different responses to the stress. According to the results, C100, C104 and LR55 lines had better growth, yield and drought tolerance indices in water stress conditions. In addition, drought stress increased total protein content of the lines especially resistant ones (C100, C104 and LR55). The protein SDS-PAGE electrophoresis pattern also showed that drought stress caused the accumulation of low molecular weight proteins specially the bands 69.3 and 70.5 kDa were produced in the resistant lines C100, C104 and LR55 under drought stress conditions. Moreover, more protein bands were observed in the resistant lines, C104 and LR55, under normal compared to the stress conditions. It seems that the protein bands 69.3 and 70.5 kDa are resistance-related proteins that were expressed in the tolerant lines. The findings of this study can be useful in sunflower breeding programs for producing resistant cultivars to drought stress.


Agele S. O. (2003). Sunflower response to weather variations in rainy and dry cropping seasons in a tropical rainforest zone. International Journal of Biotronics, 32: 17-33.

Ahmad S. H., Ahmad R., Ashraf M. Y., Ashraf M., and Waraich E. A. (2009). Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) response to drought stress at germination and seedling growth stages. Pakistan Journal of Botany, 41: 647-654.

Alahdadi I., Oraki H., and Parhizkar Khajani F. (2011). Effect of water stress on yield and yield components of sunflower hybrids. African Journal of Biotechnology, 10: 6504-6509.

Andrade A., Vigliocco A., Alemano S., Llanes A., and Abdala G. (2013). Comparative morpho-biochemical responses of sunflower lines sensitive and tolerant to water stress. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 4: 156-167.

Anjum S. H., Xie X. Y., Wang L. C., Saleem M. F., Man C., and Lei W. (2011). Morphological, physiological and biochemical responses of plants to drought stress. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 6: 2026-2032.

Bakalova S., Nedeva D., and Mckee J. (2008). Protein profiles in wheat seedlings subjected to dehydration stress. Applied Ecology and Environmental Research, 6: 37-48.

Borovskii G. B., Stupnicova I. V., Antipina A. L., Vladimirova S. V., and Voinikov, V. K. (2000). Dehydrin-like proteins in maize mithochondria after cold adaptation, freezing, drought and ABA treatment. Plant Physiology, 156: 797- 800.

Bouslama A. M., and Schapaugh W. T. (1984). Stress tolerance in soybean. Part 1: evaluation of three screening techniques for heat and drought tolerance. Crop Science, 24: 933-937.

Cao H. X., Sun C. X., Shao H. B., and Lei X. T. (2011). Effects of low temperature and drought on the physiological and growth changes in oil palm seedlings. African Journal of Biotechnology, 10: 2630-2637.

Chikkadevaiah C., and Nandini R. (2003). Isozymes as markers for differentiating sunflower genotypes. Helia, 36: 51-58.

Chimenti C. A., and Hall A. T. (2002). Genetic variation and changes with ontogeny of osmotic adjustment in sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). Euphytica, 71: 201-210.

Chimenti C., Pearson A., and Hall J. (2002). Osmotic adjustment and yield maintenance under drought in sunflower. Field Crops Research, 75: 235-246.

D’Andria R., Chianranda F. Q., Magliulo V., and Mori M. (1995). Yield and soil water uptake of sunflower sown in spring and summer. Agronomy Journal, 87: 1122-1128.

Daneshian J., Ardakani M. R., and Habibi D. (2005). Effect of drought stress on yield and quantitative characteristics of new sunflower hybrids. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Integrated Approaches to Sustain and Improve Plant Population under Drought Stress, Roma, Italy: 406.

Daneshian J., Jabbari H., and Farokhi A. (2006). The effect of drought stress and plant density on grain yield and agronomic characteristics of sunflower in second planting system. Proceedings of the 9th Congress Agronomy and Plant Breeding, Tehran, Iran: 500.

Daneshian J., and Jonoubi P. (2008). Evaluation of new sunflower hybrids tolerance to water deficit stress. Proceedings of the 5th International Crop Science Congress and Exhibition, Jejo, Korea, 187: 18-13.

Darvishzadeh R., Pirzad A., Hatami Maleki H., Poormohammad Kiani S., and Sarrafi A. (2010). Evaluation of the reaction of sunflower inbred lines and their F1 hybrids to drought conditions using various stress tolerance indices. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, 8: 1037-1046.

Dubey R. S., and Rani M. (1989). Influence of NaCl salinity on growth and metabolic status of proteins and amino acids in rice seedling. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science, 162: 97-106.

Einot I., and Gabriel K. R. 1975. A study of the powers of several methods of multiple comparisons. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 70: 574 583.

Erdem T., Erdem Y., Orta A. H., and Okursoy H. (2006). Use of a crop water stress index for scheduling the irrigation of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). Turkish Journal of Agriculture and Forestry, 30: 11-20.

Farshadfar E., and Sutka J. (2002). Screening drought tolerance criteria in maize. Acta Agronomica Hungarica, 50: 411-416.

Fazeli F., Ghorbanli M., and. Niknam V. (2007). Effect of drought on biomass, protein content, lipid peroxidation and antioxidant enzymes in tow sesame cultivars. Journal of Biologia Plantarum, 51: 98-103.

Fernández G. C. J. (1992). Effective selection criteria for assessing plant stress tolerance. Proceedings of the International Symposium on “Adaptation of vegetables and other food crops in temperature and water stress, AVRDC Publication, Tainan, Taiwan: 257-270.

Fischer R. A., and Maurer R. (1978). Drought resistance in spring wheat cultivars: I. Grain yield responses. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 29: 897-912.

Gabriel K. R. (1971). The biplot graphical display of matrices with applications to principal component analysis. Biometrika, 58: 453-467.

Gavuzzi P., Rizza F., Palumbo M., Campaline R. G., Ricciardi G. L., and Borghi B. (1997). Evaluation of field and laboratory predictors of drought and heat tolerance in winter cereals. Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 77: 523-531.

Genadii B., Irina V., Anna I., and Victor K. (2002). Accumulation of dehydrin-like protein in the mitochondria of cereals in response to cold, freezing, drought and ABA treatment. Plant Biology, 2: 157-170.

Ghaffari M. (2008). Evaluation and selection of sunflower inbred lines under normal and drought stress conditions. Seed and Plant Journal, 24: 633-649.

Goksoy A. T., Demir A. O., Turan Z. M., and Dagustu N. (2004). Responses of sunflower to full and limited irrigation at different growth stages. Filed Crops Research, 87: 167-178.

Gupta U. S. .(7991) Crop Improvement: stress tolerance. Oxford and IBH: Co Pvt Limited., Calcutta, New Delhi.

Hemmati M. H., and Soleymani A. (2014). A study about drought stress effects on grain yield components of three sunflower cultivars. International Journal of Advanced Biological and Biomedical Research, 2: 564-572.

Hsiao T. C. (1973). Plant responses to water stress. Annual Review of Plant Physiology, 24: 519-570.

Hu X., Liu R., Li Y., Wang W., Tai F., Xue R., and Li C. (2010). Heat shock protein 70 regulates the abscisic acid-induced antioxidant response of maize to combined drought and heat stress. Plant Growth Regulation, 60: 225-235.

Hussain S., Saleem M. F., Iqbal J., Ibrahim M., Atta S., Ahmed T., and Rehmani M. I. A. (2014). Exogenous application of abscisic acid may improve the growth and yield of sunflower hybrids under drought. Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 51: 49-58.

Hussain S., Saleem M. F., Iqbal J., Ibrahim M., Ahmed M., Nadeem S. M., Ali A., and Atta S. (2015). Abcscisic acid mediated biochemical changes in sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) grown under drought and well-watered field conditions. Journal of Animal and Plant Sciences, 25:

Iqbal N., Ashraf M. Y., and Ashraf M. (2005a). Influence of water stress and exogenous glycinebetaine on sunflower achene weight and oil percentage. International Journal of Environmental Sciences and Technology, 5: 155-160.

Iqbal S. H., Ghafoor A., and Ayub N. (2005b). Relationship between SDS-PAGE markers and Ascochyta blight in chickpea. Pakistan Journal of Botany, 37: 87-96.

Imam Jomeh A. (1999). Determination of genetic distance using RAPD-PCR, evaluation of drought resistance indices and adaptability analysis in Iranian chickpea genotypes. [M.Sc. Thesis.]
Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran.

Ingram J., and Bartels D. (1996). The molecular basis of dehydration tolerance in plants. Annual Review of Plant Physiology and Plant Molecular Biology, 47: 377-403.

Ishitani M., Nakamura T., Han S. Y., and Takabe T. (1995). Expression of the betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase gene in barley in response to osmotic stress and abscisic acid. Plant Molecular Biology, 27: 307-315.

Jabari F., Ahmadi A., Poustini K., Alizadeh H., Sharifzadeh F., and Ranjbar M. (2009). Evaluation of relationship between relative water content and gas exchanges parameters with drought resistance in 7 wheat cultivars. Iranian Journal of Field Crop Science, 40: 198-207.

Jafari A., Paknejada F., and Jami Al Ahmadi M. (2009). Evaluation of selection indices for drought tolerance of corn (Zea mays L.) hybrids. International Journal of Plant Production, 3: 33-38.

Jafarzadeh Bilvare B. M., Khodabandeh N., Gaffari M., Daneshian J., and Azimi B. (2006). Investigation of effect of irrigation cycles and plant density on traits of two sunflower cultivars. Proceedings of the 9th Congress of Agronomy and Plant Breeding, Tehran, Iran: 57.

Javid A., Ghafoor A., and Anwar R. (2004). Seed storage protein electrophoresis in ground nut for evaluating genetic diversity. Pakistan Journal of Botany, 36: 87-96.

Khalilvand B., and Yarnia M. (2007). The effects of water deficit stress on some of the physiological characters of sunflower in the different density of planting. Journal of Agricultural Science,
1: 37-52.

Konopka I., Tanska M., Pszczolkowska A., Fordonski G., Kozirok W., and Olszewski J. (2007). The effect of water stress on wheat kernel size, color and protein composition. Polish Journal of Natural Sciences, 22: 157-171.

Kristin A. S., Serna R. R., Perez F. I., Enriquez B. C., Gallegos J. A. A., Vallejo R. R., Wassimi N., and Kelley J. D. (1997). Improving common bean performance under drought stress.
Crop Science
, 37: 43-50.

Kyte J.  .(5991)Structure in Protein Chemistry. Garland Publishing, New York and London.

Lisse T., Bartels D., Kalbitzer H. R., and Jaenicke R. (1996). The recombinant dehydrin-like desiccation stress protein from the resurrection plant Craterostigma plantagineum displays
no defined three-dimensional structure in its native state. Biological Chemistry, 377: 555-561.

Lowry O. H., Roseberough N. J., Farr A. L., and Randall R. J. .(1591) Protein measurement with the folin-phenol reagent. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 193: 265-275.

Maroufi A. (1999). Determination of chromosome location of drought resistance indices in wheat. [M.Sc. Thesis.] Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran.

Mobasser H. R., and Tavassoli A. (2013). Effect of water stress on quantitative and qualitative characteristics of yield in sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). Journal of Novel Applied Sciences, 2: 299-302.

Nayyar H., and Gupta D. (2006). Differential sensitivity of C3 and C4 plant to water deficit stress: association with oxidative stress and antioxidants. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 58: 106-113.

Nezami A., Khazaei H. R., Boroumand Rezazadeh Z., and Hosseini A. (2008). Effects of drought stress and defoliation on sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) in controlled conditions. Desert, 12: 99-104.

Neslihan Ozturk Z., Talam´el V., Deyholos M., Michalowski C. B., Galbraith D. W., Gozukirmizi N., Tuberosa R., and Bohnert H. J. (2002). Monitoring large-scale changes in transcript abundance
in drought- and salt stressed barley. Plant Molecular Biology, 48: 551-573.

Nourmand Moayyed F. (1997). Study on variation of quantitative traits and their relation to the performance of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in dry and water conditions and determination of the best indices of drought resistance. [M.Sc. Thesis.] College of Agriculture, Tehran University, Karaj, Iran.

Ouvrard O., Cellier F., Ferrare K., Tousch D. T., Lamaze J., Du M., and Casse Delbart, F. (1996). Identification and expression of water stress and abscisic acid-regulated genes in a drought tolerant sunflower genotype. Plant Molecular Biology, 31: 819-829.

Parveen., Anwar ul Haq M., Raza S., Abbasi G. H., Ali A., and Akhtar J. (2015). Changes in morphological, physiological and chemical characteristics of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) genotypes induced by salt stress. International Journal of Plant and Soil Science, 4: 377-388.

Pasda G., and Diepenbrock W. (1990). The physiological yield analysis of sunflower. Part II: Climate factors. Wissenschfat Technologie, 93: 155-168.

Petcu E., Arsintescu A., and Stanciu D. (2001). The effect of hydric stress on some characteristics of sunflower plants. Romanian Agricultural Research, 16: 15-22.

Pirzad A., and Shokrani F. (2012). Effects of iron application on growth characters and flower yield of calendula officinalis L. under water stress. World Applied Sciences Journal, 18: 1203-1208.

Poormohammad Kiani S., Grieu P., Maury P., Hewezi T., Gentzbittel L., and Sarrafi A. (2007). Genetic variability for physiological traits under drought conditions and differential expression of water stress-associated genes in sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 114: 193-207.

Poormohammad Kiani S., Maury P., Sarrafi A., and Grieu P. (2008). QTL analysis of chlorophyll fluorescence parameters in sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) under well-watered and water-stressed conditions. Plant Science, 175: 565-573.

Poormohammad Kiani S., Nouri L., Maury P., Darvishzadeh R., Grieu P., and Sarrafi, A. (2009). Genetic variation and identification of molecular markers associated with osmotic adjustment- related traits in gamma irradiation-induced mutants of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). Journal of Genetics and Breeding, 62: 67-74.

Rahimizadeh M., Kashani A., Zarefizabady A., Madani H., and Soltani E. (2010). Effect of micronutrient fertilizers on sunflower growth and yield in drought stress condition. Electronic Journal of Crop Production 3: 57-72.

Rajendra P., Kandpal C. S., Vaidyanathan M., Udayakumar K. S., and Appaji R. (1991). Alterations in the activities of the enzymes of proline metabolism in Ragi (Eleusine coracana L.) leaves during water stress. Journal of Biosciences, 3: 361-370.

Rauf S., and Sadaqat H. A. (2008). Identification of physiological traits and genotypes combined to high achene yield in sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) under contrasting water regimes. Australian Journal of Crop Science, 1: 23-30.

Raymond J., Mimouni B., and Azzaza J. L. (1994). Variability in the 11S globulin fraction of seed storage protein in Helianthus (Asteraceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution, 193: 69-79.

Raymond J., Robin J. M., and Azzaza J. L. (1995). 11S seed storage proteins from Helianthus species (Compositae): biochemical, size and charge heterogeneity. Plant Systematics and Evolution, 198: 195-208.

Reddy A. R., Chaitanya K. V., and Vivekanandan M. (2004). Drought induced responses of photosynthesis and antioxidant metabolism in higher plants. Journal of Plant Physiology, 161: 1189-1202.

Riccardi F., Gazeau P., Vienne D., and Zivy M. (1998). Protein changes in response to progressive water deficit in maize. Plant Physiology, 117: 1253-1263.

Rosielle, A. A., and Hamblin J. (1981). Theoretical aspects of selection for yield in stress and
non-stress environments. Crop Science, 21: 943-946.

Safari M. (2006). The effects of irrigation cycles on yield and yield component of sunflower. Proceedings of the 9th Congress of Agronomy and Plant Breeding, Tehran, Iran: 134.

Safavi S. M., Safavi A. S., and Safavi S. A. (2015). Evaluation of drought tolerance in sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) inbred lines and synthetic varieties under non stress and drought stress conditions. Biological Forum, 7: 1849-1854.

Saint Pierre C., Peterson C. J., Ross, A. S., Ohm, J., Verhoeven, M. C., Larson, M., and Hoefer B. (2007). Grain protein content and composition of winter wheat cultivars under different levels of N and water stress. Developments in Plant Breeding, 12: 535-542.

Shabani A., and Rajaee S. (2013). The evaluation of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L) three hybrids Lotto R28, Lotto R101, Lotto 3620 and purity on the basis of isozymes and seed storage proteins. International Science and Investigation Journal, 2: 33-39.

Shirinzadeh A., Zarghami R., and Shiri M. R. (2009). Evaluation of drought tolerance in late and medium maize hybrid using stress tolerance indices. Iranian Journal of Crop Sciences, 10:

Soleimanzadeh H., Habibi D., Ardakani M. R., Paknejad F., and Rejali F. (2010). Responses of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) to drought stress under different potassium levels. World Applied Sciences Journal, 8: 443-448.

Tahir M. H. N., Muhammad I., and Hussain M. K. (2002). Evaluation of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) inbred lines for drought tolerance. International Journal of Agriculture and Biology, 4: 398-400.

Turhan H., and Baser I. (2004). In vitro and in vivo water stress in sunflower (Helianthus annuus). Helia, 27: 227-236.

Valinezhad H., Khajehpoor R., and Gafari M. (2004). Investigation the effect water stress on agronomy traits and growth index in sunflower.[M.Sc. Thesis.] Takestan Islamic Azad University, Takestan, Iarn.

Vivek, I. S., and Chakor I. S. (1992). Effects of nitrogen and irrigation on growth and yield of sunflower (Helianthus annuus) under mid-hill conditions of Himachal Pradesh. Indian Journal of Agronomy, 37: 500-502.

Wester M. R., Botta R., and Milami N. .(9991) Molecular characterization of twenty seedless and seeded grape cultivars (Vitis vinifera L.). Vitis, 38: 84-99.

Zaffaroni E. J., and Schneiter A. A. (1989). Water use efficiency and light interception of semi-dwarf and standard height sunflower hybrids grown in different row arrangement. Agronomy Journal, 81: 831-836.

Zhao T. J., Sun S., Liu Y., Liu J. M., Liu Q., Yan Y. B., and Zhou H. M. (2006). Regulating the drought-responsive element (DRE)-mediated signaling pathway by synergic functions of trans-active and transinactive DRE binding factors in Brassica napus. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 281: 10752-10759.