Thermal stresses in maize: Effects and management strategies

Muhammad Ahmed Waqas, Xiukang Wang*, Syed Adeel Zafar, Mehmood Ali Noor, Hafiz Athar Hussain, Muhammad Azher Nawaz, Muhammad Farooq

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change can decrease the global maize productivity and grain quality. Maize crop requires an optimal temperature for better harvest productivity. A suboptimal temperature at any critical stage for a prolonged duration can negatively affect the growth and yield formation processes. This review discusses the negative impact of temperature extremes (high and low temperatures) on the morpho-physiological, biochemical, and nutritional traits of the maize crop. High temperature stress limits pollen viability and silks receptivity, leading to a significant reduction in seed setting and grain yield. Likewise, severe alterations in growth rate, photosynthesis, dry matter accumulation, cellular membranes, and antioxidant enzyme activities under low temperature collectively limit maize productivity. We also discussed various strategies with practical examples to cope with temperature stresses, including cultural practices, exogenous protectants, breeding climate-smart crops, and molecular genomics approaches. We reviewed that identified quantitative trait loci (QTLs) and genes controlling high-and low temperature stress tolerance in maize could be introgressed into otherwise elite cultivars to develop stress-tolerant cultivars. Genome editing has become a key tool for developing climate-resilient crops. Moreover, challenges to maize crop improvement such as lack of adequate resources for breeding in poor countries, poor communication among the scientists of developing and developed countries, problems in germplasm exchange, and high cost of advanced high-throughput phenotyping systems are discussed. In the end, future perspectives for maize improvement are discussed, which briefly include new breeding technologies such as transgene-free clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated (Cas)-mediated genome editing for thermo-stress tolerance in maize.

Original languageEnglish
Article number293
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Breeding and genomics
  • Climate change
  • Cold stress
  • Heat stress
  • Limitations in crop improvement
  • Maize
  • Oxidative damage
  • Tolerance/susceptibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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