Drought Response of Young Apple Trees on Three Rootstocks. II. Gas Exchange, Chlorophyll Fluorescence, Water Relations, and Leaf Abscisic Acid

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325

`Imperial Gala' apple trees (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) on M.9 EMLA, MM.111, and Mark rootstocks were subjected to two drought-stress and recovery periods in a rainshelter. Water relations, gas-exchange parameters per unit leaf area and per tree, chlorophyll fluorescence, and leaf abscisic acid content were determined during each stress and recovery period. Whole-plant calculated gas exchange best indicated plant response to drought stress, with consistent reductions in CO2 assimilation, transpiration, and leaf conductance. Variable and maximal chlorophyll fluorescence and fluorescence quenching were not as sensitive to stress. Other fluorescence parameters showed little difference. The most consistent decreases due to stress for gas exchange per square meter were in transpiration and leaf conductance, with few differences in CO2 assimilation and fewer for mesophyll conductance, internal CO2 concentration, and water-use efficiency. Leaf water potential was consistently lower during drought stress and returned to control values upon irrigation. Leaf abscisic acid content was higher for drought-stressed trees on M.9 EMLA than control trees during the stress periods but inconsistently different for the other rootstock treatments. Trees on M.9 EMLA were least affected by drought stress, MM.111 was intermediate, and Mark was the most sensitive; these results are consistent with the growth data.

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