Drought is a major factor limiting plant growth, which has been associated with the accumulation of absicsic acid (ABA) in various species. The objective of the study was to determine the relationship between ABA accumulation and drought tolerance for kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) during short-term drought stress. Eight kentucky bluegrass cultivars (`Midnight', `A82-204', `RSP', `Alpine', `Moonlight', `Brilliant', `Washington', and `Baruzo') were subjected to drought stress in a growth chamber. Water relations, gas exchange rate, and ABA content of leaves were determined at various times during drought stress. Turf quality decreased with drought duration for all eight cultivars. Leaf ABA content increased linearly with drought stress within 11 days of treatment; the rate of the increase was negatively related to the rate of turf quality decline. The rate of ABA accumulation during drought stress was positively correlated with the rates of decrease in turf quality (r2 = 0.6346), increase in electrolyte leakage (r2 = 0.7128), and decrease in relative water content (r2 = 0.5913). There were highly significant negative correlations between ABA content and leaf water potential (r2 = 0.9074), stomatal conductance (r2 = 0.6088), transpiration rate (r2 = 0.6581), net photosynthesis rate (r2 = 0.6956), and a positive correlation between ABA content and electrolyte leakage (r2 = 0.7287). The results indicate that drought tolerance is negatively related to ABA accumulation during shortterm drought stress. ABA accumulation in response to drought stress could be used as a metabolic factor to select for drought tolerance in kentucky bluegrass.
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