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  • Author or Editor: Xunzhong Zhang x
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Creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris Huds.) is an extensively used cool-season grass for fine turf areas such as golf course putting greens, but suffers from poor summer stress tolerance. These studies were conducted to investigate the influences of natural plant growth regulators (NPGR) and Fe on creeping bentgrass photochemical activity (PA), antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, root growth and leaf color under two fertilization regimes. The bentgrass was maintained in well-watered field conditions or water-stressed glasshouse conditions. A mature bentgrass was treated monthly during the field season with seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum Jol.) extract (SWE) at 50 mg·m-2 or humic acid (HA) at 150 mg·m-2 or in combination with or without FeSO4 at 520 mg·m-2 and grown under a low or a high fertilization regime. Foliar application of SWE + Fe increased PA (14% to 15%), while applications of SWE + HA or SWE + HA + Fe increased SOD activity (49% to 114%) of creeping bentgrass in Summer 1997 and Summer 1998. There was no significant fertilization × NPGR interaction for PA and SOD activity. Bentgrass PA was increased by 13% to 46% when treated with NPGR with or without Fe compared to the control measured in May. The addition of Fe with each NPGR application improved fall and winter leaf color. All NPGR and Fe treatments increased root mass (17% to 29%) in Aug. 1997 and 1998, except HA alone in 1998. Under sustained low soil moisture (-0.5 MPa) conditions, application of NPGR with or without Fe increased PA and SOD activity. The data indicate that SWE and HA enhance the physiological function of `Southshore' creeping bentgrass, resulting in improved root growth regardless of low or high fertilization regime. However, addition of Fe to these NPGR served primarily to improve late season leaf color. The results suggest that, in addition to maintaining adequate plant-available nutrients, applications of natural PGRs, such as SWE and HA, prior to and during summer abiotic stresses would be beneficial.

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Drought stress is a major factor in turfgrass management; however, the underlying mechanisms of turfgrass drought tolerance are not well understood. This greenhouse study was designed to investigate proline and hormone responses to drought stress in two tall fescue [Festuca arundinacea (Schreb.)] cultivars differing in drought tolerance. The two cultivars, Van Gogh (relatively drought-tolerant) and AST7002 (relatively drought-sensitive), were established and grown under either well-watered (maintaining 90% container capacity) or drought stress (≈26% container capacity) and then re-watered. Drought stress reduced turfgrass quality, relative leaf water content (LWC), leaf indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and cytokinin zeatin riboside (ZR) content, and increased proline and abscisic acid (ABA) content. ‘Van Gogh’ had greater turfgrass quality rating, LWC, proline, ABA, and ZR content relative to ‘AST7002’ under drought stress conditions. At the end of drought stress, leaf proline, ZR, and ABA content were 32%, 43%, and 50% higher in ‘Van Gogh’ relative to ‘AST7002’, respectively. No cultivar difference was observed under well-watered conditions. The results of this study suggest that the proline, ABA, and ZR content are associated with drought tolerance. Selection and use of the cultivars with higher proline, ABA, and ZR content under drought stress may be a practical approach to improve tall fescue drought tolerance.

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High ultraviolet-B (UV-B; 290-320nm wavelength) may significantly contribute to kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) sod death at harvest and transplanting. As terrestrial UV-B levels continue to increase due to a depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer this problem may worsen. Epidermal attenuation from pigments and detoxification of reactive oxygen species by antioxidant metabolites and enzymes are involved in plant defense against oxidative stress caused by UV-B. Our objective was to determine whether the attenuation and detoxification systems of kentucky bluegrass could be artificially boosted by exogenous applications of ascorbic acid (AA), alpha-tocopherol (AT), or a colorant before exposure to high levels of UV-B. Ascorbic acid, AT, and the colorant Green Lawnger (GL), were applied to plugs of mature kentucky bluegrass alone or in combination, and then subjected to artificial, continuous UV-B exposure (70 μmol·m-2·s-1); three greenhouse experiments were conducted. By 3 to 5 days after UV-B initiation, visual quality and photochemical efficiency, as measured by chlorophyll fluorescence were significantly reduced. However, in Expt. 1, AA alleviated decline of visual quality, delayed loss of photochemical efficiency, and increased recovery relative to the control. In Expt. 3, decreased endogenous AT and antioxidant enzyme activities were measured due to UV-B stress. Application of AA, AA + AT, or GL partially alleviated photochemical efficiency decline from 4 to 12 days after initiation of UV-B. In addition, application of the chemical treatments increased leaf tissue AT concentrations by 32% to 42%, increased SOD activity by 30% to 33% and increased catalase activity by 37% to 59%, relative to the control as measured 10 days after UV-B initiation. Greater AT concentration and SOD and catalase activities were associated with greater visual quality under UV-B stress. The results of these studies indicate that kentucky bluegrass UV-B tolerance may be increased by supplementing its pigment and antioxidant defense systems with foliar applications of AA, AT or GL.

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High ultraviolet-B (UV-B; 290-320 nm wavelength) radiation may significantly contribute to the quality decline and death of kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) sod during summer transplanting. Antioxidants and protective pigments may be involved in plant defense against oxidative stress caused by UV-B. Selected exogenous hormones may alleviate UV-B damage by upregulating plant defense systems. The objectives of this study were to determine if exogenous hormone or hormone-like substances could alleviate UV-B damage to `Georgetown' kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) under greenhouse conditions. The hormone salicylic acid at 150 mg·m-2 and the hormone-containing substances, humic acid (HA) at 150 mg·m-2 and seaweed extract (SWE) at 50 mg·m-2, were applied to plugs of kentucky bluegrass and then subjected to UV-B radiation (70 μmol·m-2·s-1). The UV-B irradiation stress reduced turf quality by 51% to 66% and photochemical efficiency by 63% to 68% when measured 10 or 12 days after initiation of UV-B. Endogenous alpha-tocopherol (AT) and antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase) were reduced by UV-B stress. Anthocyanin content was increased from day 1 to 5 and then decreased from day 5 to 10 of continuous UV-B irradiation. Application of SA and HA + SWE enhanced photochemical efficiency by 86% and 82%, respectively, when measured 10 or 12 days after UV-B initiation. In addition, application of the hormonal supplements increased AT concentration, SOD, catalase activity, and anthocyanin content when compared to the control at 10 days after UV-B initiation. Bluegrass with greater AT concentration and SOD and catalase activity exhibited better visual quality under UV-B stress. The results of this study suggest that foliar application of SA and HA + SWE may alleviate decline of photochemical efficiency and turf quality associated with increased UV-B light levels during summer.

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Plants possess various constitutive and inducible defense mechanisms such as pigment and antioxidant systems for protection against stresses such as ultraviolet-B (UV-B; 290 to 320 nm) radiation. Our previous research has indicated that higher chlorophyll, carotenoid, and anthocyanin concentrations were associated with greater tolerance of UV-B stress by `Georgetown' kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.). The objectives of this study were to determine if kentucky bluegrass cultivars with darker leaf color possessed greater pigment and antioxidant defense systems and if such increases were associated with greater resistance to UV-B. Eight cultivars exhibiting a range of green color intensity (`Apollo', `Brilliant', `Julius', Limerick', `Midnight', `Moonlight', `Nuglade', and `Total Eclipse') were selected and subjected to continuous, artificial UV-B radiation (70 μmol·m-2·s-1). UV-B irradiation reduced turf quality (55% to 62%) and photochemical efficiency (37% to 70%) when measured 5 days after initiation of UV-B exposure. Significant differences in turf color, photochemical efficiency, chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, chlorophyll a+b, and carotenoids were found among the cultivars. `Moonlight' had greatest photochemical efficiency, chlorophyll, carotenoids, and turf quality. Positive correlations of pigment concentration with photochemical efficiency and turf color were observed under UV-B radiation stress, with correlation coefficients ranging from 0.49 to 0.62. The results of this study suggests that selecting cultivars with higher concentrations of chlorophyll and carotenoids and photochemical efficiency may be an effective way for turfgrass managers and sod producers to improve sod establishment and quality in environments with higher UV-B radiation.

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Plant hormones play an important role in plant adaptation to abiotic stress, but hormonal responses of cool-season turfgrass species to salt stress are not well documented. This study was carried out to investigate the responses of hormones to salt stress and examine if salt stress-induced injury was associated with hormonal alteration in kentucky bluegrass (KBG, Poa pratensis L.). The grass was grown in a growth chamber for 6 weeks and then subjected to salt stress (170 mm NaCl) for 28 days. Salt stress caused cell membrane damage, resulting in photosynthetic rate (Pn), chlorophyll (Chl), and turf quality decline in KBG. Salt stress increased leaf abscisic acid (ABA) and ABA/cytokinin (CK) ratio; reduced trans-zeatin riboside (ZR), isopentenyl adenosine (iPA), and indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), but did not affect gibberellin A4 (GA4). On average, salt stress reduced ZR by 67.4% and IAA by 58.6%, whereas it increased ABA by 398.5%. At the end of the experiment (day 28), turf quality, Pn, and stomatal conductance (g s) were negatively correlated with ABA and ABA/CK ratio, but positively correlated with ZR, iPA, and IAA. Electrolyte leakage (EL) was positively correlated with ABA and ABA/CK and negatively correlated with ZR, iPA, IAA, and GA4. GA4 was also positively correlated with turf quality and g s. The results of this study suggest that salt stress-induced injury of the cell membrane and photosynthetic function may be associated with hormonal alteration and imbalance in KBG.

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Traffic stress causes turfgrass injury and soil compaction but the underlying physiological mechanisms are not well documented. The objectives of this study were to investigate the physiological responses of kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), and japanese zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica) to three levels of traffic stress during the growing season under simulated soccer traffic conditions. Relative leaf water content (LWC), shoot density, leaf chlorophyll concentration (LCC), membrane permeability, and leaf antioxidant peroxidase (POD) activity were measured once per month. The traffic stress treatments caused a reduction in LWC, shoot density, LCC, and POD activity, and an increase in cell membrane permeability in all three species. Japanese zoysiagrass had less electrolyte leakage, and higher POD activity and shoot density than both kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue. The results suggest that turfgrass tolerance to traffic stress may be related to leaf antioxidant activity. Turfgrass species or cultivars with higher leaf antioxidant activity may be more tolerant to traffic stress than those with lower antioxidant activity.

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Ultraviolet-B [UV-B (280-320 nm)] radiation is one of the major factors causing quality decline of transplanted sod. Pigments and antioxidants are associated with plant stress resistance, but their roles in turfgrass tolerance to UV-B damage are not well understood. The objectives of this study were to determine if kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cultivars with darker green genetic leaf color possessed greater pigment and antioxidant defense capacities and if such characteristics were associated with greater resistance to UV-B. Two cultivars, `Moonlight' (dark green) and `Limerick' (light green), were selected and subjected to continuous, artificial UV-B radiation (70 μmol·m-2·s-1). UV-B irradiation reduced turf quality by 58% (`Moonlight') and 77% (`Limerick') relative to day 1 when measured 10 days after initiation of UV-B exposure. Higher canopy photochemical efficiency (PEc) was found in `Moonlight' relative to `Limerick' under UV-B stress and during recovery. `Moonlight' contained greater levels of chlorophyll (1.5 to1.6-fold), carotenoids (1.3-fold), superoxide dismutase [SOD (1.0-fold)] and catalase [CAT (1.5-fold)] than `Limerick' when measured at 10 days after UV-B initiation. Turfgrass quality and PEc were positively correlated with pigments (chlorophyll and carotenoids) and antioxidant enzymes (SOD and CAT), and negatively correlated with lipid peroxidation. The results suggest that selecting dark-green cultivars with greater pigment content and antioxidant activity may be an effective approach for turfgrass breeders and sod producers to improve tolerance of newly transplanted sod to environments with higher UV-B radiation.

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A variety of organic materials such as humic substances, seaweed extracts (SWE), organic matter, and amino acids are being used as fertilizer supplements in commercial turfgrass management. Among them, SWE and humic acid (HA) are widely used in various biostimulant product formulations. These compounds have been reported to contain phytohormones and osmoprotectants such as cytokinins, auxins, polyamines, and betaines. Manufacturer claims are that these products may supplement standard fertility programs by reducing mineral nutrient requirements while improving stress tolerance. There is a lack of season-long, field-based evidence to support these claims. This study was conducted to investigate the influence of monthly field applications of SWE, HA, and high and low seasonal fertilization regimes on the physiological health of fairway-height creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.). Plots were treated monthly with SWE at 16 mg·m-2 and HA (70% a.i.) at 38 mg·m-2 alone, or in combination, and were grown under low (20 kg·ha-1/month) or high nitrogen (50 kg·ha-1/month) fertilization regimes during 1996 and 1997. Endogenous antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, photochemical activity (PA), and turf quality were measured in July of each year. Superoxide dismutase activity was increased by 46% to 181%, accompanied by a PA increase of 9% to 18%, and improved visual quality of bentgrass in both years. There was no significant fertilization × supplement interaction. Although not part of our original objectives, it was noted that significantly less dollar spot (Sclerotinia homoeocarpa F.T. Bennett) disease incidence occurred in supplement-treated bentgrass. Our results indicate that increased SOD activity in July due to SWE and/or HA applications improved overall physiological health, irrespective of fertilization regime. This suggests that these compounds may be beneficial supplements for reducing standard fertilizer and fungicide inputs, while maintaining adequate creeping bentgrass health.

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Salinity stress may involve the accumulation of glycine betaine (GB). The objective of this study was to examine whether exogenous GB would ameliorate the detrimental effect of salinity stress on perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). The grass was subjected to two salinity levels (0 and 250 mm NaCl) and three GB levels (0, 20, and 50 mm). Salinity resulted in a remarkable decrease in vertical shoot growth rate (VSGR), shoot and root fresh weight, relative water content (RWC), relative transpiration rate (Tr), and chlorophyll (Chl) content, superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activities. Plants subjected to salt exhibited an increase in leaf electrolyte leakage (EL), lipid peroxidation (MDA), and proline content. Application of GB reduced EL, MDA, and proline content in salt-stressed plants. Perennial ryegrass subjected to salt stress plus GB had a greater level of VSGR, RWC, relative Tr, Chl content, and activities of SOD, CAT, and APX when compared with salt-stressed without GB. Salt stress increased Na+ and decreased K+ content, which resulted in a higher Na+/K+ ratio in perennial ryegrass. Application of 20 mm GB suppressed Na+ accumulation, whereas the K+ content was significantly increased in shoot, which led to a higher K+/Na+ ratio under saline conditions. These results suggested that GB-enhanced salt tolerance in perennial ryegrass was mainly related to the elevated SOD, CAT, and APX activity and alleviation of cell membrane damage by reducing oxidation of membrane lipid and improving the ion homeostasis under salt stress.

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