Water is the key resource limiting world agricultural production. Although an impressive number of research reports have been published on plant drought tolerance enhancement via genetic modifications during the last few years, progress has been slower than expected. We suggest a feasible alternative strategy by application of rhizospheric bacteria coevolved with plant roots in harsh environments over millions of years, and harboring adaptive traits improving plant fitness under biotic and abiotic stresses. We show the effect of bacterial priming on wheat drought stress tolerance enhancement, resulting in up to 78% greater plant biomass and five-fold higher survivorship under severe drought. We monitored emissions of seven stress-related volatiles from bacterially-primed drought-stressed wheat seedlings, and demonstrated that three of these volatiles are likely promising candidates for a rapid non-invasive technique to assess crop drought stress and its mitigation in early phases of stress development. We conclude that gauging stress by elicited volatiles provides an effectual platform for rapid screening of potent bacterial strains and that priming with isolates of rhizospheric bacteria from harsh environments is a promising, novel way to improve plant water use efficiency. These new advancements importantly contribute towards solving food security issues in changing climates.