This study was designed to examine whether shoot injury induced by high root-zone temperature is associated with changes in shoot detoxifying metabolism and to determine the level and duration of high root-zone temperatures that would induce physiological changes in two cultivars of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera var. palustris Huds) differing in heat tolerance. Plants of `Penn A-4' (heat tolerant) and `Putter' (heat susceptible) were grown in sand and exposed to root-zone temperatures of 20 (control), 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 31, and 35 °C in water baths while air temperature was maintained at 20 °C in a growth chamber. Turf quality, leaf cytokinin content, and antioxidant enzyme activities declined at increased soil temperatures and the duration of treatment for both cultivars. A decline in turf quality occurred following 40 days of exposure to 35 °C for `Penn A-4' and 26 days of exposure to 31 °C for `Putter'. The root-zone temperature causing the decline of isopentenyl adenosine and zeatin cytokinins was 25 °C at 37 d for `Putter' and 27 °C at 47 days for `Penn A-4'. The temperature causing the decline of superoxide dismutase and catalase activities was 25 °C and 27 °C at 33 days for `Putter' and 27 °C and 31 °C at 43 days for Penn A-4, respectively. Malondialdehyde content increased at 27 °C for `Putter' and 31 °C for `Penn A-4' at 43 days of treatment. The decline in cytokinin content and antioxidant enzyme activity occurred at a lower soil temperature and earlier during the treatment than the decline in turf quality, possibly contributing to turf quality decline. The root-zone temperatures causing the decline in turf quality, cytokinin content, and oxidative damage were higher in the heat-tolerant cultivar than heat-susceptible cultivar.
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