Submitted to: Phytochemistry Reviews
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/19/2017
Publication Date: 4/29/2017
Citation: Vaughan, M.M., Block, A., Christensen, S., Allen, L.H., Schmelz, E.A. 2017. The effects of climate change associated abiotic stresses on maize phytochemical defenses. Phytochemistry Reviews. doi: 10.1007/s11101-017-9508-2. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Reliable large-scale maize production is an essential component of global food security; however, sustained efforts are needed to ensure optimized resilience under diverse crop stress conditions. Climate changes are expected to increase the frequency and intensity of both abiotic and biotic stress. Protective phytochemicals play an important role in both abiotic stress tolerance and resistance to biotic challenges, yet the concentration and composition of these phytochemicals are also dependent on climate variables. We review the research on the effects of climate change associated abiotic stresses on several classes of maize phytochemical defense metabolites, including benzoxazinoids, volatile organic compounds, and terpenoid phytoalexins. Despite significant knowledge gaps that still exist, it is evident that climate change influences maize phytochemicals associated with resilience. While broad generalizations are not yet possible, climate induced changes in phytochemicals are context specific and dependent upon developmental stage and tissue type. Under conditions of drought, maize modulates different classes of defense phytochemicals to protect the above- and belowground tissues. Changes in the allocation or distribution of the different classes of defense metabolites or signaling molecules have the potential to further shape the biodiversity and abundance of pests within the maize agroecosystem. A better understanding of the underlying genetics, biosynthetic pathways, regulation and precise biological roles of maize phytochemicals modulated by arrays of climatic conditions will be required to ensure optimal plant resilience and productivity in the face of combined biotic and abiotic stresses.