Comparative Physiology of Natural Deacclimation in Ten Azalea Cultivars

in HortScience

Seasonal deacclimation was investigated during Jan. to Mar. 2014 in leaves of 10 azalea cultivars (Rhododendron section Tsutsusi) under natural conditions in eastern China. Based on the midwinter leaf freezing tolerance (LFT), these cultivars were grouped as “more-hardy” vs. “less-hardy.” Eight of the 10 cultivars first showed deacclimation when daily mean temperature over 2-week period preceding the LFT measurement was ≈9.5 °C. Deacclimation for other two cultivars was somewhat delayed and might have involved deacclimation–reacclimation cycling before eventual deacclimation. Our data indicate that the “more-hardy” group deacclimated slower than the “less-hardy” ones over the first half of the deacclimation period. This trend reversed during the second half of the deacclimation period. Accordingly, “more-hardy” and “less-hardy” cultivars depicted a “curvilinear” and “reverse curvilinear/linear” deacclimation kinetics. “More-hardy” cultivars generally had higher total soluble sugars (TSS) than “less-hardy” ones at acclimated state. TSS declined during deacclimation in all cultivars, and the loss was positively correlated with the loss in LFT. Leaf starch content generally followed opposite trend to that of TSS, i.e., it was at lowest during acclimated state and increased during deacclimation.

Contributor Notes

This research was supported by funds from Zhejiang Province, China (Project—“The evaluation of germplasm resources and variety breeding of azaleas”—2016C02056-12) and Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, Ames, Iowa, Project No. 3601.

Corresponding authors. E-mail: rarora@iastate.edu or ypxia@zju.edu.cn.

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Article Figures

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    Changes in the daily maximum and minimum temperatures at the experimental site from 6 Jan. to 31 Mar. 2014. Black dashed lines indicate the exact sampling dates (6 Jan., 22 Jan., 9 Feb., 24 Feb., 14 Mar., and 31 Mar.) for this experiment.

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    Flow-sheet diagram of freeze-thaw protocol employed to assess leaf freezing tolerance of azaleas.

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    Freeze-thaw injury sigmoid response for leaves of ‘Zihudie’ on 9 Feb. 2014, using Gompertz function. LT50, a midpoint (46.2%) between the minimum (0%) and maximum (≈92.4%) injury, is the temperature causing 50% injury and defined as leaf freezing tolerance (LFT).

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    Changes in leaf freezing tolerance (LT50; °C) of 10 azalea cultivars and their regression equations during a deacclimation time course (22 Jan. to 31 Mar. 2014). LT50 changes fitted quadratic response with different regression equations. 6 Jan. sampling date was omitted in this figure because plants were still acclimating during 6 Jan. to 22 Jan.

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    Changes in concentrations of total soluble sugars (TSS) in leaf tissues of 10 azalea cultivars starting from 6 Jan. and ending on 31 Mar. 2014. Values are means ± se of three replicates. Different letters indicate significant differences across sampling dates but for the same cultivar, calculated by Fisher’s least significant difference test (P < 0.05).

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    Changes in concentrations of starch in leaf tissues of 10 azalea cultivars starting from 6 Jan. and ending on 31 Mar. 2014. Values are means ± se of three replicates. Different letters indicate significant differences across sampling dates but for the same cultivar calculated by Fisher’s least significant difference test (P < 0.05).

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