Breeding crop plants with increased yield potential and improved tolerance to stressful environments is critical for global food security. Drought stress (DS) adversely affects agricultural productivity worldwide and is expected to rise in the coming years. Therefore, it is vital to understand the physiological, biochemical, molecular, and ecological mechanisms associated with DS. This review examines recent advances in plant responses to DS to expand our understanding of DS-associated mechanisms. Suboptimal water sources adversely affect crop growth and yields through physical impairments, physiological disturbances, biochemical modifications, and molecular adjustments. To control the devastating effect of DS in crop plants, it is important to understand its consequences, mechanisms, and the agronomic and genetic basis of DS for sustainable production. In addition to plant responses, we highlight several mitigation options such as omics approaches, transgenics breeding, genome editing, and biochemical to mechanical methods (foliar treatments, seed priming, and conventional agronomic practices). Further, we have also presented the scope of conventional and speed breeding platforms in helping to develop the drought-smart future crops. In short, we recommend incorporating several approaches, such as multi-omics, genome editing, speed breeding, and traditional mechanical strategies, to develop drought-smart cultivars to achieve the 'zero hunger' goal.
© 2022 The Authors. The Plant Genome published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Crop Science Society of America.