Plant sterility under drought stress is caused by antioxidant inefficiency?
In a paper entitled `Drought-induced spikelet sterility is associated with an inefficient antioxidant defence in rice panicles` published in Physiologia Plantarum 121:462-471 (2004) the authors (Selote and Khanna-Chopra) report on a test of two rice varieties under drought stress. The susceptible variety had greater panicle sterility than the resistant one under stress. The susceptible variety also had less antioxidant activity than the resistant variety. The authors therefore concluded that "inefficient antioxidant defense" was the likely cause of rice panicle sterility under drought stress.
This far reaching conclusion was made while in the same paper the authors also report that the susceptible variety had relatively lower panicle relative water content (RWC) and turgor under stress. Neither the authors nor the peer reviewers or the editor of this specific paper (A. Marion-Poll) considered the possibility that this lower panicle RWC and turgor in the dehydrated susceptible cultivar could be the real cause of sterility, irrespective of the found antioxidant status.