This study was designed to compare and determine root growth and nutritional responses of creeping bentgrass cultivars that differ in heat tolerance to deferential, supraoptimal shoot and root temperatures. Shoots and roots of `Penncross' (heat sensitive) and `L-93' (heat tolerant) were exposed to four differential air/soil temperature regimes (20/20-control, 20/35, 35/20, and 35/35 °C) in water baths and growth chambers. Exposing roots to supraoptimal root temperature (35 °C) while maintaining shoots at normal temperature (20 °C), or at 35 °C in particular, reduced root fresh weight, root number, the content of N, P, and K in shoots and roots, and accelerated root death for both cultivars. High root temperature had a greater detrimental effects on root growth and nutrient accumulation than high shoot temperature for both cultivars. Reducing root temperature at supraoptimal shoot temperature improved root growth, reduced root mortality, and increased N, P, and K content in shoots and roots. Among the three nutrient elements, K was the most sensitive to changes in root temperature. L-93 generally maintained higher root fresh weight and number, and N, P, K content in shoots and roots, particularly K in roots, under high root (20/35 °C) or shoot/root (35/35 °C) temperatures. The results indicated that root growth and nutrient accumulation, particularly K, played an important role in creeping bentgrass tolerance to heat stress imposed to shoots by high air temperature or to roots by high soil temperatures. Reducing root temperature under supraoptimal ambient temperatures enhanced root growth and nutrient relations, and thus could lead to the improved shoot growth in cool-season grasses as reported previously.
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