278 Gas Exchange and Water Relations of Diverse Tall Fescue Cultivars in Response to Drought Stress

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources, Kansas State Univ., Manhattan, KS 66506

To investigate shoot physiological responses to drought stress of six tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) cultivars representing several generations of turfgrass improvement, forage-type `Kentucky-31', turf-type `Phoenix', `Phoenix', and `Houndog V', and dwarf-type `Rebel Jr` and `Bonsai' were grown in well-watered or drying soil for 35 days in a greenhouse. Net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (gs), transpiration rate (Tr), relative water content (RWC), and photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) declined during drought progression in all cultivars, but the time and the severity of reductions varied with cultivars and physiological factors. Pn, RWC, gs, and Tr decreased significantly for `Rebel Jr', `Bonsai', and `Phoenix' when soil water content declined to 20% after 9 days of treatment (DOT) and for `Falcon II', `Houndog V', and `Kentucky-31' when soil water content dropped to 10% at 15 DOT. A significant decrease in Fv/Fm was not observed in drought-stressed plants until 21 DOT for `Rebel Jr', `Bonsai', and `Phoenix' and 28 DOT for `Houndog V', `Kentucky-31', and `Falcon II'. The decline in Pn was due mostly to internal water deficit and stomatal closure under short-term or mild drought-stress conditions. After a prolonged period of drought (35 DOT), higher Pn in `Falcon II', `Houndog V', and `Kentucky-31' could be attributed to their higher Fv/Fm.

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