INTERDROUGHT-II follows the first INTERDROUGHT symposium held in 1995 in Montpellier, France, which provided an excellent platform for presenting, discussing and integrating results of both basic and applied research towards the development of solutions to crop production under drought-prone conditions. Despite the importance of drought as a major constraint in food production world-wide, no other major international symposium has brought together such a wide range of world-class experts since that first INTERDROUGHT meeting.

The objective of INTERDROUGHT-II is to serve as a platform for presenting and debating key issues and strategies relevant for increasing the yield and stability of crops under drought conditions by genetic and crop management approaches. Great advances were made in recent years in understanding the molecular basis of plant response and plant tolerance to drought stress. Hundreds of droughtresponsive genes were identified and the function of some has been resolved at the cellular level. Despite this, a huge gap remains between the findings at the molecular level and the application of this knowledge at the whole plant level in the field. Excellent meetings have been dedicated to the cellular and molecular aspects of drought stress. However, there is now an increasing demand in both public and private research sectors for crosstalk between disciplines involved with the molecular sciences and those seeking practical solutions to improve crop performance under drought conditions. We believe INTERDROUGHT-II offers a unique and timely platform for this purpose.

Henceforth, the main mission of INTERDROUGHT-II is to explore the possibilities of science and technology applications to crop improvement and management under drought-prone farming by linking progress made at the molecular level to that at the whole plant and crop levels in the field. This conference will provide recommendations on the research needed to achieve better crop productivity under drought conditions as well as the most effective approaches to move forward in this direction. INTERDROUGHT-II is especially concerned with the poorer developing countries that confront an increasing problem of food production with less water. These problems will be appropriately addressed with the participation of experts and students from such countries.

We are making every effort to create a comfortable and hospitable environment for you at this meeting.

We cordially extend our invitation to you.

Sincerely, Abraham Blum (Chair), Roberto Tuberosa (Vice-Chair) and the INTERDROUGHT-II Steering Committee.