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Morphological and Physiological Plant Responses to Drought Stress in Thymus citriodorus
Water availability is considered as a determinant factor that affects plant growth. The commercial medicinal values of an aromatic plant rely on the presence of secondary metabolites that are affected under water shortage. Two-year-old Thymus citriodorus plants were subjected to different polyethylene glycol (PEG-6000) levels (0, 2%, and 4%) under green house condition. PEG treatment lasted for 15 days. Thyme plant showed amorphological drought avoidance mechanism by maintaining the root system development through shoot fresh weight reduction resulting in promoted root absorption capacity and sustained plant growth. Moreover, stressed plants were able to maintain water use efficiency and root : shoot ratio suggesting a strong relation between root water uptake and water use saving strategies. Furthermore, thyme plants reduced tissue dehydration through stomatal closure and improved root water uptake. Content of volatile oil constituents of geraniol and diisobutyl phthalate increased upon drought stress while pseudophytol was reduced. Unexpectedly, thymol was not reported as a main oil element under either control or mild stress condition, while it was increased upon high drought stress in measure of 4.4%. Finally, carvacrol significantly accumulated under high drought stress (+31.7%) as compared to control plants.
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