Summer decline in turf quality and growth of cool-season grass species is a major concern in turfgrass management. The objectives of this study were to investigate whether foliar application of trinexapac-ethyl (TE) and two biostimulants (TurfVigor and CPR) containing seaweed extracts would alleviate the decline in creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) growth during summer months and to examine effects of TE and the biostimulants on leaf senescence and root growth. The study was performed on a ‘Penncross’ putting green built on a sandy loam soil at Hort Farm II, North Brunswick, NJ, in 2007 and 2008. Turf was foliar-sprayed with water (control), TE (0.05 kg a.i./ha), TurfVigor (47.75 L·ha−1), or CPR (19.10 L·ha−1) from late June to early September in a 2-week interval in both years. Turf quality, density, chlorophyll content, canopy photosynthetic rate (Pn), and root growth exhibited significant decline during July and August in both 2007 and 2008, to a greater extent in each parameter for the control treatment. Foliar application of TE resulted in significant improvement in turf quality, density, chlorophyll content, and Pn on certain sampling dates from July to September in both years compared with the control. Both TurfVigor and CPR significantly improved visual quality during July and August in both years by promoting both shoot and root growth. This study suggests that proper application of TE and selected biostimulants could be effective to improve summer performance of creeping bentgrass.
Yan Xu and Bingru Huang
Ricardo Cesped-Ruiz* and Bingru Huang
The American cranberry often undergoes drought stress during the summer. However, the physiological response of this species to drought is not well understood. This study was designed to determine the effects of drought on two commercial cranberry cultivars of high potential yield, `Ben Lear' and `Stevens', during a vegetative stage. The plants were subjected to drought for 15 days in a greenhouse. Soil water content, leaf water content, leaf photosynthetic rate, stomatal conductance, transpiration, differential leaf-air temperature, photochemical efficiency (Fv'/Fm') and the actual PSII efficiency (deltaF/Fm') decreased in those plants subjected to drought. Drought reduced differential leaf-air temperature at day 6 of treatment and stomatal conductance and transpiration starting at day 9 and photosynthetic rate at day 13. Drought decreased leaf water content at day 14 and Fv'/Fm' and PSII efficiency at day 15. Our results indicated that cranberry plants in vegetative stage were sensitive to drought for both cultivars and stomatal conductance was the most sensitive parameter among those examined for both cultivars.
Stephen E. McCann and Bingru Huang
The objectives of this study were: 1) to compare drought responses between the more recently developed creeping bentgrass cultivars to standard cultivars and 2) to determine differential drought tolerance and avoidance characteristics associated with cultivar variation in drought resistance. Six cultivars of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stoloniferia) (‘Penn A-4’, ‘Independence’, ‘Declaration’, ‘L-93’, ‘Penncross’, and ‘Putter’) were maintained in growth chambers at 20 °C day/15 °C night either well-watered or exposed to drought stress by withholding water for 17 days. Cultivars varied in turf performance and physiological responses (leaf relative water content and photochemical efficiency) to drought stress, which was reflected in their differences in drought tolerance (osmotic adjustment) and drought avoidance traits (water use rate and efficiency, root viability, root length, and number). ‘Penn A-4,’ ‘Independence,’ and ‘L-93’ generally performed better than other three cultivars under drought conditions, mainly through maintaining higher water use efficiency, root viability, root elongation, or root production. The majority of physiological parameters evaluated suggested that of the six creeping bentgrass cultivars examined in this study, the three cultivars with better ability to survive drought stress used mainly avoidance traits related to water use and water uptake.
Stephen E. McCann and Bingru Huang
The plant growth regulators abscisic acid (ABA) and trinexapac-ethyl (TE) may affect turfgrass responses to drought stress through regulating shoot growth and water relations. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of foliar application of TE and ABA on turf growth of two cool-season turfgrass species, Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) and creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) exposed to drought stress, and to examine water relations associated with changes in drought tolerance due to TE or ABA treatment. ‘L-93’ creeping bentgrass and ‘Brilliant’ Kentucky bluegrass plants were foliar sprayed with 0.904 mL·ha−1 a.i. TE five times before exposure to drought or with 6.75 mL/week of ABA at 100 μm before and after exposure to drought in growth chambers. Drought stress was imposed by withholding irrigation until plants were permanently wilted. Foliar application of TE or ABA maintained higher soil volumetric water content, leaf relative water content, and turf quality for a longer period of time during 28 days of stress exposure for Kentucky bluegrass and creeping bentgrass compared with the untreated control. Leaves of TE-treated and ABA-treated plants in both species also had lower ψS at 28 days of drought stress than the untreated control. Creeping bentgrass treated with TE or ABA and Kentucky bluegrass treated with TE exhibited significantly lower shoot vertical growth rates at the initiation of drought stress, but maintained higher growth rates during prolonged drought compared with the untreated control. Turf treated with TE or ABA also showed higher levels of photochemical efficiency than the untreated control for both species. Our results suggest that TE or ABA application could prolong the survival of turfgrass under conditions of drought stress by suppressing shoot vertical growth and lowering water use during the early phase of drought and by sustaining growth and photosynthetic activity during prolonged periods of drought stress through osmotic adjustment for retaining cellular hydration.
Bingru Huang and David M. Eissenstat
In Citrus L. sp., specific root length of whole root systems has been correlated positively with root hydraulic conductivity, but there is little mechanistic understanding of the causes for this association. The hydraulic conductivity of individual roots in relation to root anatomical characteristics in seedlings of three citrus rootstocks [sour orange (SO) (Citrus aurantium L.), trifoliate orange (TO) (Poncirus trifoliate (L.) Raf.), and Swingle citrumelo (SC) (C. paradisi Macf. × P. trifoliata)] that vary widely in specific root length (SRL) was measured. Among fibrous roots, first-order and secondorder laterals were examined. Relative differences among rootstocks in the overall hydraulic conductivity (LP) and radial conductivity (LR) for individual 1-month-old and 6-month-old second- and first-order roots generally were consistent with hydraulic conductivity determined previously for entire root systems. There were no significant differences in axial conductance per unit pressure (Kh) in either first- or second-order roots among the rootstocks. This was consistent with the similarity in number and diameter of xylem vessels. One-month-old second-order roots had no suberized exodermis but varied in cortical radius. Six-month-old second-order roots of TO, however, had more nonsuberized cells (passage cells) in the exodermis than roots of SC and SO, although the cortical radius of SC and SO roots were not different. Compared to 6-month-old second-order roots, 1-month-old second-order roots had much higher LP and LR but lower Kh. Differences in overall root hydraulic conductivity among the citrus rootstocks were mainly related to structural differences in the radial pathway for water movement, suggesting that radial hydraulic conductivity was the primary determining factor of water uptake in citrus rootstocks.
Jinmin Fu, Jack Fry and Bingru Huang
Understanding turfgrass physiological responses to deficit irrigation will help explain potential effects of this practice on turf quality and subsequent stresses. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of deficit irrigation growth and physiology of ‘Falcon II’ tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb) and ‘Meyer’ zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica Steud). Turf was subjected to deficit irrigation levels of 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100% of actual evapotranspiration (ET) from June to Sept. 2001 and 2002 in Manhattan, Kans. In an earlier study, minimum deficit irrigation levels required to maintain acceptable quality (MDIL) were determined. We compared growth and physiological parameters at these MDIL with turf irrigated at 100% ET. Tall fescue had a lower canopy vertical growth rate (30% lower), canopy net photosynthesis (Pn, 14% lower), and whole-plant respiration (Rw, 11% lower) in 1 of 2 years when irrigated at the MDIL compared with 100% ET; tiller number was not reduced at the MDIL. Water use efficiency (μmol CO2 per mmol H2O) in tall fescue increased by 15% at the MDIL relative to turf receiving 100% ET in 1 of 2 years. In zoysiagrass, the MDIL had no effect on any of the growth or physiological parameters measured. Reductions in canopy vertical growth rate at the MDIL in tall fescue during deficit irrigation would likely reduce mowing requirements. Across all deficit irrigation levels, Pn was more sensitive to deficit irrigation in both grasses than was Rw, which could potentially contribute to declines in canopy vertical growth rate, tiller number, and turf quality. Zoysiagrass exhibited higher water use efficiency than tall fescue, particularly at irrigation levels 60% or more ET.
Yali He, Xiaozhong Liu and Bingru Huang
Various physiological processes may deteriorate in response to increasing temperatures, contributing to the decline in turf quality for cool-season turfgrasses during heat stress. This study was performed to investigate metabolic changes (membrane lipid peroxidation, total protein content, amino acid content, and protease activity) associated with turf quality decline for creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera Huds.) in response to gradually increasing temperatures for a short duration and prolonged exposure to lethally high temperature. Plants were subjected to increasing temperatures of 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 °C for 7 days at each level of temperature [gradual heat stress (GHS)] or exposed to high temperature of 40 °C for 28 days [prolonged heat stress (PHS)] in growth chambers. During the GHS treatment, significant decline in turf quality occurred when plants were exposed to 30 °C for 7 days; simultaneously, malondialdehyde (MDA) content increased and total protein content in shoots decreased significantly compared to those at 20 °C. Protease activity increased at 25 °C and then decreased as temperature was elevated from 30 to 40 °C during the GHS treatment. Amino acid content decreased under GHS, beginning at 25 °C. Under the PHS treatment, turf quality declined and MDA content increased significantly, beginning at 14 days of PHS, while total protein content decreased at 7 days of PHS. Protease activity and amino acid content increased at 7 days of PHS, and then declined with longer stress duration. Our results indicated that protease activity, and amino acid and total protein content were more responsive to GHS or PHS than that of lipid peroxidation and turf quality. Changes in metabolic parameters of protease activity, amino acid and total protein content, and lipid peroxidation may contribute to leaf senescence and poor turf performance under severe or prolonged heat stress conditions for creeping bentgrass.
Jinmin Fu, Bingru Huang and Jack Fry
Effects of deficit irrigation applied to home lawns, used as means of water conservation, are an important issue. However, the impact of deficit irrigation on sucrose metabolism in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is unknown and important because sucrose is the dominant form of carbohydrate transported to developing plant organs. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of deficit irrigation on leaf water content, osmotic potential (ψS), sucrose level, and the activity of sucrose phosphate synthase (SPS; EC 18.104.22.168), sucrose synthase (SS; EC 22.214.171.124), and acid invertase (AI; EC 126.96.36.199) in tall fescue leaves. Sods of ‘Falcon II’ tall fescue were established in polyvinylchloride (PVC) tubes (10 cm diameter × 40 cm long) filled with a mixture of sand and fritted clay [9:1 (v:v)] and then placed in growth chambers. Reference evapotranspiration rate [ETo (millimeters of water per day)] was determined by weighing the PVC tubes containing well-watered turfgrass every 3 days to determine water loss on a daily basis as ETo. Deficit irrigation treatments were applied as follows: well-watered control, mild drought stress (60% ETo), and severe drought stress (20% ETo). Leaf water content was lower at 6, 12, and 20 days of treatment for the 20% ETo treatment and 20 days after treatment began for the 60% ETo treatment. Compared with the well-watered control, ψS was lower in the 60% ETo treatment on all three measurement dates. Sucrose was higher at 8 and 14 days after treatment began in the 60% ETo treatment and on all three measurement dates in the 20% ETo treatment relative to the well-watered control. No difference in sucrose level was observed between the 20% ETo and 60% ETo irrigation regimes at 8 and 14 days of treatment. Beginning 14 days after treatment, tall fescue had a higher level of SPS in the 60% ETo and 20% ETo treatments compared with the well-watered treatment. Tall fescue receiving 60% or 20% ETo had a lower level of AI activity on all measurement dates. Results suggest that the decrease in ψS was accompanied by higher sucrose levels, which were the result of the increased level of SPS and SS activity and a decline in AI activity.
Lixin Xu, Liebao Han and Bingru Huang
The objectives of this study were to examine antioxidant enzyme responses to drought stress and rewatering at both enzymatic activity and transcript levels and to determine the major antioxidant processes associated with drought tolerance and post-drought recovery for a perennial grass species, kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis). Antioxidant enzyme responses to drought and rewatering in a drought-tolerant cultivar (Midnight) and a drought-sensitive cultivar (Brilliant) were compared in a growth chamber. Plants were exposed to 22 days of drought stress for ‘Midnight’ and 18 days for ‘Brilliant’ before rewatering to allow the leaf relative water content (RWC) of both cultivars to drop to the same level. ‘Midnight’ exhibited higher photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) and lower electrolyte leakage compared with ‘Brilliant’ when at the same water deficit status (26% to 28% RWC). After 6 days of rewatering, all physiological parameters returned to the control level for ‘Midnight’, but only Fv/Fm fully recovered for ‘Brilliant’. The transcript level of cytosolic copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (cyt Cu/Zn SOD) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) was significantly higher in ‘Midnight’ than in ‘Brilliant’ when exposed to the same level of water deficit (26% to 28% RWC), suggesting that SOD and APX could be involved in scavenging oxidative stress-induced reactive oxygen species in kentucky bluegrass through changes in the level of gene expression. Significantly higher activities of APX, monodehydroascorbate reductase, glutathione reductase, and dehydroascorbate reductase as well as lower lipid peroxidation levels were observed in ‘Midnight’ versus ‘Brilliant’ when exposed to drought. However, the activities of SOD, catalase (CAT), and guaiacol peroxidase (POD) did not differ between the two cultivars. After 6 days of rewatering, ‘Midnight’ displayed significantly higher activity levels of CAT, POD, and APX compared with ‘Brilliant’. The enzyme activity results indicate that enzymes involved in the ascorbate–glutathine cycle may play important roles in antioxidant protection to drought damage, whereas CAT, POD, and APX could be associated with better post-drought recovery in kentucky bluegrass.
Zhongchun Jiang, Chenping Xu and Bingru Huang
Low nitrogen (N) rates are recommended for creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) putting greens to prevent excessive shoot growth and potential nitrate leaching, but low N rates could lead to N deficiency, which induces leaf senescence. This study was conducted to examine the effects of N deficiency on two enzymes involved in organic N metabolism as well as amino acid (AA) and soluble protein (SP) contents in both young and old leaves and roots of creeping bentgrass. Creeping bentgrass plants (cv. Penncross) were grown in a nutrient solution containing either 6 mm nitrate (+N plants) or zero N (−N plants), and each of the two treatments had four replicate pots. Young leaves on upper portions of the stolons and old leaves on lower portions of the stolons were separated and sampled at 14, 21, and 28 days of treatment, and roots were sampled at 28 days. Nitrogen deficiency increased glutamine synthetase (GS) transferase activity in all three tissues and at all three dates and GS biosynthetic activity in young leaves at all three dates. Prolonged N deficiency at 21 and 28 days increased glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) deamination and amination activities in old leaves. In the roots, N deficiency at 28 days increased GS transferase activity but decreased GDH deamination activity. The N deficiency decreased AA content in all three tissues and at all three dates and SP content in young leaves at all three dates and in old leaves at 21 and 28 days. Decreasing organic N reserves in AA and SP and increasing GS and GDH activities in senescing leaves may be adaptive responses to N deficiency.