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.
Zoysiagrass (Zoysia spp.), a warm-season turfgrass species, experiences freezing damage in many regions. The mechanisms of its cold acclimation and freezing tolerance have not been well understood. This study was designed to investigate effects of cold acclimation treatment on leaf abscisic acid (ABA), cytokinin (transzeatin riboside (t-ZR), and antioxidant metabolism associated with freezing tolerance in zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica). ‘Chinese Common’ zoysiagrass was subjected to either cold acclimation treatment with temperature at 8/2 °C (day/night) and a photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) of 250 µmol·m−2·s−1 over a 10-hour photoperiod or normal environments (temperature at 28/24 °C (day/night), PAR at 400 µmol·m−2·s−1 and 14-hour photoperiod) for 21 days in growth chambers. Cold treatment caused cell membrane injury as indicated by increased leaf cell membrane electrolyte leakage (EL) and malondialdehyde (MDA) content after 7 days of cold treatment. Cold treatment increased leaf ABA and hydrogen peroxide content and reduced t-ZR content. Leaf superoxide dismutase (SOD), ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activity, and proline content increased, whereas catalase (CAT) and peroxidase (POD) activity declined in response to cold treatment. Cold treatment increased freezing tolerance as LT50 declined from −4.8 to −12.5 °C. The results of this study indicated that cold acclimation treatment might result in increases in ABA and H2O2, which induce antioxidant metabolism responses and improved freezing tolerance in zoysiagrass.