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Erick Amombo, Longxing Hu, Jibiao Fan, Zhengrong Hu, and Jinmin Fu

Clonal plants can consist of connected individual ramets that enhance resource sharing through physiological integration. This integration enables the whole clone to tolerate environmental stresses. The objective of this research was to investigate the effects of physical ramet connections on the integration of antioxidant enzymes in clonal common bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) growing under heterogeneously distributed water; i.e., nonuniform distribution of water due to 20% polyethylene glycol (PEG 6000) treatment on some ramets and not others. The bottom, middle, upper and three fragments of clonal common bermudagrass were subjected to 20% PEG 6000 with water potential of −1.8 MPa to induce heterogeneous and homogeneous drought stress. The control was not treated with 20% PEG 6000. Within the heterogeneous treatment, water stressed clonal fragments generally had higher leaf and root antioxidant enzyme activities with respect to superoxide dismutase, catalase, peroxidase (except for root peroxidase). There was no difference in antioxidant enzyme activity within the connected clonal ramets for homogeneous treatment; i.e., three connected ramets treated with 20% PEG 6000. Osmotically stressed clonal fragments under heterogeneous environments had a lower level of malonaldehyde (MDA) compared with those in homogeneous regimes. The antioxidant enzyme integration was affected by directionality and water availability contrast. This was indicated by significant decline in MDA levels within the heterogeneous treatments as compared with homogeneous treatment, which suggested reduced lipid peroxidation. These results suggested that ramet connections facilitate integration of antioxidant enzymes within clonal plants growing in heterogeneously available water. Enzymes were integrated from clonal fragments growing in water sufficient environment to those in water stressed regimes. This enhanced reactive oxygen species scavenging capacity of the entire clone hence improved drought tolerance.

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Jibiao Fan, Jing Ren, Weixi Zhu, Erick Amombo, Jinmin Fu, and Liang Chen

Cold stress is a key factor limiting resource use in bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon). Under cold stress, bermudagrass growth is severely inhibited and the leaves undergo chlorosis. Therefore, rigorous investigation on the physiological and molecular mechanisms of cold stress in this turf species is urgent. The objective of this study was to investigate the physiological and molecular alteration in wild bermudagrass under cold stress, particularly the changes of transpiration rate, soluble sugar content, enzyme activities, and expression of antioxidant genes. Wild bermudagrass (C. dactylon) was planted in plastic pots (each 10 cm tall and 8 cm in diameter) filled with matrix (brown coal soil:sand 1:1) and treated with 4 °C in a growth chamber. The results displayed a dramatic decline in the growth and transpiration rates of the wild bermudagrass under 4 °C temperature. Simultaneously, cold severely destabilized the cell membrane as indicated by increased malondialdehyde content and electrolyte leakage value. Superoxide dismutase and peroxidase activities were higher in the cold regime than the control. The expression of antioxidant genes including MnSOD, Cu/ZnSOD, POD, and APX was vividly up-regulated after cold stress. In summary, our results contributed to the understanding of the role of the antioxidant system in bermudagrass’ response to cold.

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Ao Liu, Jibiao Fan, Margaret Mukami Gitau, Liang Chen, and Jinmin Fu

Bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] is a warm-season turfgrass that has the potential to improve saline and alkaline soils. However, its utilization is severely limited by high salinity. Therefore, it is urgent to enhance its tolerance to salt stress. Previous studies have proved that nitric oxide (NO) plays a vital role in various biological processes. However, the role of NO in bermudagrass response to salt is unknown. Our objective here was to investigate whether and how NO contributes to the protection of bermudagrass against salt stress in bermudagrass. In this study, sodium nitroprusside (SNP) served as the NO donor, while 2-phenyl-4,4,5,5-tetramentylimidazoline-l-oxyl-3-xide (PTIO) plus NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) acted as the NO inhibitor. The treatment of bermudagrass with 400 mm salt solution occurred under different regimes: control, SNP, PTIO + L-NAME (PL). The results showed that 400 mm salinity caused significant toxicity to bermudagrass. However, SNP alleviated damage effect on plant growth and ionic balance as indicated by higher water content, chlorophyll content, higher chlorophyll a fluorescence (OJIP) curves and K+:Na+, Mg2+:Na+, and Ca2+:Na+ ratios. Also, lower levels of electrolyte leakage, malonaldehyde, H2O2, superoxide dismutase, peroxidase, and ascorbate peroxidase activities suggested that NO reduced the membrane injury and lipid peroxidation under salt treatment, while PL regime showed severe damage. In summary, our results suggest that NO has some beneficial effects on the maintenance of cell membrane stability, alleviation of oxidative damage and maintenance of ion homeostasis and plant photosythesis when bermudagrass is exposed to high salinity condition.