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  • Author or Editor: Krishna Nemali x
  • Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science x
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Bedding plants are at increased risk for exposure to drought stress during production because they are grown in small containers. Physiological mechanisms of bedding plants at leaf and cellular scales that regulate whole-plant photosynthesis under drought conditions are not well understood. This information can be useful for screening bedding plant cultivars with improved drought-tolerance and generate guidelines to mitigate drought stress during production. We subjected drought-sensitive salvia (Salvia splendens ‘Bonfire Red’) and drought-tolerant vinca (Catharanthus roseus ‘Cooler Peppermint’) to gradual drought stress inside whole-plant gas exchange chambers. Substrate water content (Θ), whole-plant net photosynthesis (Pn_avg ), whole-plant respiration (Rd_avg ), and daily carbon gain (DCG) were measured continuously, whereas stomatal conductance (g S) to water, leaf water (ΨL), osmotic (ΨS), and turgor (ΨP) potentials were measured at the start and end of the drought phase. In addition, ΨS was measured before exposure to stress and after thoroughly rehydrating plants. Dark-adapted quantum efficiency (dark-adapted ΦPSII) was measured after rehydrating plants. The results indicated that, at whole-plant scale, vinca continued to uptake water at lower Θ levels than the Θ level that resulted in wilting of salvia. There were no differences in Rd_avg ; however, Pn_avg and DCG of salvia decreased at a higher Θ level than that of vinca. This indicated that salvia experienced drought stress at a higher Θ level than did vinca. At the leaf scale, there were no differences in ΨL; however, a more negative ΨS (P = 0.06) and significantly higher ΨP were observed in vinca (compared to salvia) under drought conditions. In addition, ΨS was not different between species before exposure to drought, whereas ΨS of rehydrated leaves after exposure to drought in vinca was significantly lower than that in salvia. Moreover, ΨS of rehydrated leaves after exposure to drought was significantly lower than that observed before exposure to drought in vinca. This indicated osmotic adjustment (OA) in vinca under drought conditions. Dark-adapted ΦPSII was lower in salvia than in vinca after exposure to drought, indicating damage to photosynthetic mechanisms. Our results suggested that increased OA likely helped to maintain higher ΨP under drought conditions and continuation of water uptake at lower Θ in vinca compared to salvia. In addition, healthier photosynthetic mechanisms of vinca (compared to salvia) under drought conditions likely resulted in its higher Pn_avg and DCG at lower Θ. Screening for OA and dark-adapted ΦPSII may be useful for developing drought-tolerant bedding plant cultivars.

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The effect of increasing daily light integral (DLI; 5.3, 9.5, 14.4, and 19.4 mol·m-2·d-1) on photosynthesis and respiration of wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens-cultorum Hort.) was examined by measuring CO2 exchange rates (CER) for a period of 25 d in a whole-plant gas exchange system. Although plant growth rate (GR, increase in dry weight per day) increased linearly with increasing DLI, plants grown at low DLI (5.3 or 9.5 mol·m-2·d-1) respired more carbohydrates than were fixed in photosynthesis during the early growth period (13 and 4 d, respectively), resulting in a negative daily carbon gain (DCG) and GR. Carbon use efficiency [CUE, the ratio of carbon incorporated into the plant to C fixed in gross photosynthesis (Pg)] of plants grown at low DLI was low, since these plants used most of the C fixed in Pg for maintenance respiration (Rm), leaving few, if any, C for growth and growth respiration (Rg). Maintenance respiration accounted for a smaller fraction of the total respiration with increasing DLI. In addition, the importance of Rm in the carbon balance of the plants decreased over time, resulting in an increase in CUE. At harvest, crop dry weight (DWCROP) increased linearly with increasing DLI, due to the increased photosynthesis and CUE at high PPF.

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Physiological acclimation of plants to light has been studied mostly at the leaf level; however whole-plant responses are more relevant in relation to crop growth. To examine the physiological changes associated with different daily light integrals (DLI) during growth of wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens-cultorum Hort.), we grew plants under DLI of 5.3, 9.5, 14.4, and 19.4 mol·m-2·d-1 in a whole-plant gas exchange system. Photosynthesis-light response curves of groups of 12 plants were determined after 25 d of growth. Physiological parameters were estimated per m2 ground area and per m2 leaf area. On a ground area basis, significant increases in dark respiration (Rd), quantum yield (α), the light compensation point (LCP), and maximum gross photosynthesis (Pg,max) were seen with increasing DLI. Variations in physiological parameters among different treatments were small when corrected for differences in leaf area. On a leaf area basis, α, LCP, and the light saturation point (LSP) did not change significantly, whereas significant increases in Rd and Pg,max were seen with increasing DLI. There was a small decrease in leaf chlorophyll concentration (6.3%, measured in SPAD units) with increasing DLI. This study indicates that wax begonias acclimate to low DLI by increasing their leaf chlorophyll concentration, presumably to more efficiently capture the available light, and to high DLI by increasing Pg,max to efficiently utilize the available light, thereby maximizing carbon gain under both situations.

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Indoor production of bedding plant seedlings using sole-source radiation may present value in increasing uniformity and consistency compared with greenhouse production. However, information on physiological acclimation related to growth and photosynthesis in seedlings exposed to high-intensity blue radiation and elevated CO2 is limited. Seedlings of petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) ‘Dreams Midnight’ were exposed to red (peak = 660 nm):blue (peak = 451 nm) radiation ratios of 50:50 (R50:B50) or 90:10 (R90:B10) and radiation intensities of 150 or 300 µmol·m−2·s–1 under two CO2 regimes of 450 or 900 µmol·mol–1. Shoot dry mass (SDM), leaf area index (LAI), internode length, and whole-plant photosynthesis and light-use efficiency (LUE) responses to increasing radiation intensity were measured. In addition, leaf photosynthetic rate (A) was measured at ambient and supra-optimal CO2 concentrations for plants grown under 450 µmol·mol–1 CO2. Our results indicated growth (based on SDM, LAI, and internode length) was lowered for seedlings produced under R50:B50 compared with R90:B10. However, we observed an increase in whole-plant light-saturated photosynthesis (Ag,max) and whole-plant light saturation point (LSP) under R50:B50 compared with R90:B10. In addition, we observed lower LUE below and higher LUE above a radiation intensity of 500 µmol·m−2·s–1 in seedlings grown under R50:B50 compared with R90:B10. Based on our results, seedling growth was lowered under a high proportion of blue radiation mainly due to lower radiation interception (due to lower LAI and shorter internode length) and LUE of intercepted radiation at the intensities used. Higher Ag,max and LSP in R50:B50 compared with R90:B10 under higher radiation intensities was likely in part due to higher LUE. Further investigation revealed A was higher at both optimal and supra-optimal CO2 concentrations under R50:B50 compared with R90:B10, indicating a lack of stomatal effects of a higher proportion of blue radiation on carboxylation and LUE. We hypothesize that higher LUE in R50:B50 compared with R90:B10 under higher radiation intensities is due to improved photochemical quenching from increased biosynthesis of carotenoids and anthocyanins. The results from our study generated fundamental information on growth and photosynthetic responses to excess blue radiation, data that can be further used in optimizing plant production in controlled environments.

Open Access