Osmotic Adjustment and the Growth Response of Seven Vegetable Crops following Water-deficit Stress

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  • 1 Environmental Sciences Division, P. O. Box 2008, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6034
  • | 2 Altheimer Laboratory, Department of Agronomy, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701

Growth-chamber studies were conducted to examine the ability of seven vegetable crops-`Blue Lake' bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), `Detroit Dark Red' beet (Beta vulgaris L.), `Burgundy' okra (Abelmoschus esculentus (Moench), `Little Marvel' pea (Pisum sativum L.), `California Wonder' bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.), `New Zealand' spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.), and `Beefsteak' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.)–to adjust osmotically in response to water-deficit stress. Water stress was imposed by withholding water for 3 days, and the adjustment of leaf and root osmotic potentials upon relief of the stress and rehydration were monitored with thermocouple psychrometers. Despite similar reductions in leaf water potential and stomata1 conductance among the species studied, crop-specific differences were observed in leaf and root osmotic adjustment. Leaf osmotic adjustment was observed for bean, pepper, and tomato following water-deficit stress. Root osmotic adjustment was significant in bean, okra, pea, and tomato. Furthermore, differences in leaf and root osmotic adjustment were also observed among five tomato cultivars. Leaf osmotic adjustment was not associated with the maintenance of leaf growth following water-deficit stress, since leaf expansion of water-stressed bean and pepper, two species capable of osmotic adjustment, was similar to that of spinach, which exhibited no leaf osmotic adjustment.

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