A study was conducted to characterize the morphological and physiological responses of four herbaceous perennial species subjected to two subsequent drought cycles. Lantana camara L. `New Gold' (lantana), Lobelia cardinalis L. (cardinal flower), Salvia farinacea Benth. `Henry Duelberg' (mealy sage), and Scaevola aemula R. Br. `New Wonder' (fan flower) were subjected to two consecutive 10-day drought cycles. Growth response, leaf gas exchange, and chlorophyll fluorescence were measured during the experiment. The morphology of L. cardinalis and L. camara was not affected by drought, while S. farinacea had reductions in plant height and leaf area and S. aemula had reductions in dry weight. Overall, plant growth and development continued even when substrate water content was reduced to 0.13 mm3·mm-3, which indicated a level of substrate water below container capacity was sufficient for greenhouse production of these species. The drought treatments had little effect on the photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) of Photosystem II. An increase in minimal fluorescence (Fo) was observed in S. aemula on the last day of the second cycle. Drought treatment caused increased leaf-level water use efficiency (WUE) at the end of the first cycle in L. cardinalis and S. aemula, but not in L. camara and S. farinacea. Plants of L. camara, S. farinacea, and S. aemula that had received drought during both cycles became more water use efficient by the end of the second cycle, but L. cardinalis did not.
Leaf anatomical traits of Mexican and U.S. pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] seedstocks grown in a single location were studied to determine patterns of ecogeographic variation within the natural range. Stomatal density was uniform among open-pollinated seedlings of a common maternal parent with twofold differences in stomatal density separating some seedstocks. There was an inverse relationship between stomatal density and epidermal cell density. Stomatal density and stomatal index of Mexican seedstocks were related to longitude and annual precipitation of origin. Stomatal density increased along the longitudinal gradient toward the east coast of Mexico; seedstocks originating from areas on the east coast of Mexico had greater stomatal density than seedstocks originating from the drier areas on the west coast. Stomatal density and stomatal index did not follow a pattern along latitude or longitude in the U.S. seedstocks. Although isotopic carbon (13C) discrimination did not vary greatly in Mexican seedstocks, the reduction in stomatal density in pecan trees from areas with reduced annual precipitation suggest the presence of an anatomical feature to reduce water losses.
After an outbreak of blotch leafminer (Cameraria caryaefoliella) on field-grown pecan (Carya illinoinensis) trees in 2010, an experiment was conducted to evaluate the consequences of the injury on carbon assimilation and photosynthetic efficiency, and, in particular, to assess if low-to-moderate injury induces a compensatory increase in photosynthesis. Gas exchange and light-adapted fluorescence were measured on non-injured portions of the leaflet lamina adjacent to the injured area as well as on portions of leaflets that included leafminer injury. Results indicate that damage of the photosynthetic apparatus did not extend beyond the injured areas by leafminers. Furthermore, although a strong relationship between the proportion of leafminer injury and area-based net CO2 assimilation rate of injured leaflet tissue was found, there was no evidence that pecan leaves were able to compensate for leafminer injury by upregulating CO2 assimilation in leaflet tissue that was unaffected.
A greenhouse experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of water stress on leaf water potential, plant growth, and photosynthesis in purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata). Twenty 4-L pots with two plants in each pot were arranged in a completely randomized design. Ten pots received a daily irrigation dose of 100% evapotranspiration (ET) throughout the 43-day experiment (control). The other 10 pots were subjected to a reduced irrigation (RI) treatment, which was implemented stepwise to achieve a gradual increase in stress, by irrigating them with 50% ET first, then with 25% ET and, finally, with 10% ET. The last stress phase was followed by a recovery phase in which all treatments received the same amount of water (100% ET). A lower water potential was obtained at 10% ET compared with control plants (−2.51 and −0.98 MPa, respectively). Plants in both 25% and 10% ET irrigation treatments had reduced net CO2 assimilation rates (4.25 and 3.50 μmol·m−2·s−1, respectively) than plants watered with 100% ET (8.53 and 6.77 μmol·m−2·s−1, respectively). Values of maximum carboxylation rate allowed by rubisco (ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase), calculated 31 days after treatment (DAT) application (when RI plants were irrigated with 10% ET) decreased by ≈60%, whereas rate of photosynthetic electron transport and triose phosphate use (TPU) were reduced by ≈30% and ≈45% in the stress treatment compared with the control during the 10% ET irrigation period, respectively. Values of water potential and net CO2 assimilation rates in previously stressed plants were not different from the control treatment in the recovery phase, suggesting that P. incarnata plants could adapt well to landscaping situations where periods of extreme drought can be expected.