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Yajun Chen, Jingjin Yu and Bingru Huang

Water availability for plant growth is becoming increasingly limited, whereas rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration may have interactive effects with drought stress. The objectives of this study were to determine whether elevated CO2 would mitigate drought-induced water deficit and photosynthesis inhibition and enhance recovery from drought damages on rewatering and to determine whether the mitigating effects during drought stress and the recovery in photosynthesis during rewatering by elevated CO2 were the result of the regulation of stomatal movement or carboxylation activities in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb. cv. Rembrandt). Plants were grown in controlled-environment chambers with ambient CO2 concentration (400 μmol·mol−1) or elevated CO2 concentration (800 μmol·mol−1) and maintained well watered (control) or subjected to drought stress and subsequently rewatered. Elevated CO2 reduced stomatal conductance (g S) and transpiration rate of leaves during both drought stress and rewatering. Osmotic adjustment and soluble sugar content were enhanced by elevated CO2. Elevated CO2 enhanced net photosynthetic rate with lower g S but higher Rubisco and Rubisco activase activities during both drought and rewatering. The results demonstrated that elevated CO2 could improve leaf hydration status and photosynthesis during both drought stress and rewatering, and the recovery in photosynthesis from drought damages on rewatering was mainly the result of the elimination of metabolic limitation from drought damages associated with carboxylation enzyme activities.

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Jingjin Yu, Hongmei Du, Ming Xu and Bingru Huang

Heat is a major factor limiting growth of C3 grass species. Elevated CO2 may mitigate the adverse effects of heat stress or enhance heat tolerance. The objective of this study was to determine metabolic changes associated with improvement of heat tolerance by elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea). Plants (cv. Rembrandt) were exposed to ambient day/night temperature (25/20 °C) or heat stress (35/30 °C) and ambient CO2 concentration (400 ± 10 μmol·mol−1) or double ambient CO2 concentration (800 ± 10 μmol·mol−1) in growth chambers. Turf quality (TQ), shoot growth rate, and leaf electrolyte leakage results demonstrated that heat stress at ambient CO2 concentration inhibits turf growth and reduces cell membrane stability, whereas heat-stressed plants under elevated CO2 concentration exhibit improved TQ, shoot growth rate, and membrane stability. Plants exposed to heat stress under elevated CO2 exhibited a significantly greater amount of several organic acids (shikimic acid, malonic acid, threonic acid, glyceric acid, galactaric acid, and citric acid), amino acids (serine, valine, and 5-oxoproline), and carbohydrates (sucrose and maltose) compared with heat-stressed plants at ambient CO2. The increased production or maintenance of metabolites with important biological functions such as those involved in photosynthesis, respiration, and protein metabolism could play a role in elevated CO2 mitigation of heat stress damage. Therefore, elevated CO2 conditions may contribute to improved heat stress tolerance as exhibited by better TQ and shoot growth of heat-stressed plants. Practices to harness the power of CO2 may be incorporated into turfgrass management for plant adaptation to increasing temperatures, particularly during summer months.

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Zhimin Yang, Jingjin Yu, Emily Merewitz and Bingru Huang

Abscisic acid (ABA) and glycine betaine (GB) may regulate plant responses to drought or salinity stress. The objectives of this controlled-environment study were to determine whether foliar application of ABA or GB improves turf quality under drought or salinity and whether improved stress responses were associated changes in antioxidant metabolism in two C3 turfgrass species, creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) and kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis). Physiological parameters evaluated included turf quality, leaf relative water content, membrane electrolyte leakage (EL), membrane lipid peroxidation [expressed as malondialdehyde (MDA) content], and activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX). Abscisic acid and GB were both effective in mitigating physiological damage resulting from drought or salinity for both grass species, but effects were more pronounced on kentucky bluegrass. The most notable effects of ABA or GB application were the suppression of EL and MDA accumulation and an increase in APX, POD, and SOD activities after prolonged periods of drought (21 days) or salinity stress (35 days). These results suggest foliar application of ABA or GB may alleviate physiological damage by drought or salinity stress in turfgrass and the maintenance of membrane stability and active antioxidant metabolism could contribute to the positive effects in the stress mitigation effects.

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Jingjin Yu, Mengxian Liu, Zhimin Yang and Bingru Huang

Drought stress is one of the most important abiotic stresses limiting plant growth, while high recuperative capacity of plants from drought damages is critical for plant survival in periods of drought stress and rewatering. The objective of our study was to determine physiological and growth factors in association with drought tolerance and recuperative capacity of cool-season kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis cv. Excursion II) and warm-season zoysigrass (Zoysia matrella cv. Diomand), which were grown in controlled environment chambers and maintained well watered (control) or subjected to drought stress and subsequently rewatering. Compared with kentucky bluegrass, zoysiagrass maintained higher leaf hydration level during drought stress, as shown by greater relative water content (RWC), improved osmotic adjustment (OA), increased leaf thickness, and more extensive root system at deeper soil layers. Turf quality (TQ) and photosynthesis recovered to a greater level and sooner in response to rewatering for zoysiagrass, compared with kentucky bluegrass, which could be due to more rapid reopening of stomata [higher stomatal conductance (g S)] and leaf rehydration (higher RWC). The aforementioned physiological factors associated with leaf dehydration tolerance during drought and rapid resumption in turf growth and photosynthesis in zoysiagrass could be useful traits for improving drought tolerance in turfgrasses.

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June Liu, Zhimin Yang, Weiling Li, Jingjin Yu and Bingru Huang

Cold stress is a major factor limiting the growth of warm-season turfgrass species. Cold tolerance in warm-season turfgrass species could be improved through in vitro selection for somaclonal variations. The objectives of this study were to establish an effective in vitro culture protocol for generating plants from calli using mature seeds of seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) and to determine whether in vitro cold selection of somaclonal variations would lead to improved cold tolerance in seashore paspalum. The optimal concentrations of supplemental compounds in the culture medium for callus induction, embryogenic callus formation, and plant regeneration were determined. The supplemental compounds included 2,4–dichlorophenoxy acetic acid (2,4-D), 6-benzylaminopurine (6-BA), kinetin (KT), naphthalene-1-acetic acid (NAA), CuSO4, and acidic hydrolysis casein (AHC). The highest rates of callus induction (97.50%), embryogenic callus formation (66.88%), and regeneration (55.94%) were obtained with the supplemental compounds of 3.0 mg·L−1 2,4-D and 10.0 mg·L−1 CuSO4 for callus induction; with 3.0 mg·L−1 2,4-D, 15 mg·L−1 CuSO4, and 1.0 g·L−1 AHC for embryogenic callus formation; and with 8.0 mg·L−1 6-BA, 0.2 mg·L−1 KT, 0.5 mg·L−1 NAA, and 10 mg·L−1 CuSO4 for plant regeneration. Embryogenic calli were subjected to 2 or 6 °C treatment for 90 days for in vitro cold selection of somaclonal variation. Plants regenerated from calli surviving cold treatment (cold-selected) for 45 or 60 days were then exposed to low temperatures [15/10 or 5/3 °C (day/night)]. Plant variants derived from cold-selected calli exhibited significant improvement in their tolerance to low temperature of either 15/10 or 5/3 °C (day/night), as manifested by higher turf quality, leaf chlorophyll content, and membrane stability as well as lower levels of lipid peroxidation compared with the control plants. This study demonstrated the feasibility of in vitro selection for cold tolerance in seashore paspalum. The cold-tolerant variants could be useful germplasm for breeding programs and further molecular characterization of cold tolerance mechanisms.

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Zhimin Yang, Lixin Xu, Jingjin Yu, Michelle DaCosta and Bingru Huang

Carbohydrate metabolism is important for plant adaptation to drought stress. The objective of this study was to examine major forms of carbohydrates associated with superior drought tolerance and post-drought recovery in kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) by comparing responses of different forms of carbohydrates with drought stress and re-watering in two cultivars contrasting in drought tolerance. Plants of drought-tolerant ‘Midnight’ and drought-sensitive ‘Brilliant’ were maintained well watered or subjected to drought stress for 10 days by withholding irrigation, and drought-stressed plants were re-watered for 3 days. Physiological analysis (turf quality, relative water content, and electrolyte leakage) confirmed the genetic variability of the two cultivars in drought tolerance. The two cultivars exhibited differential responses to drought stress and re-watering for the content of water-soluble sugars (sucrose, fructose, and glucose) and storage carbohydrates (starch and fructan), and ‘Midnight’ maintained higher sucrose content at 10 days of drought stress and more fructan at 3 days of re-watering. The greater accumulation of sucrose in ‘Midnight’ under drought stress corresponded with higher activities of two sucrose-synthesizing enzymes (sucrose phosphate synthase and sucrose synthase) but was not related to the sucrose-degrading enzyme activity (acid invertase). These results suggested that increased sucrose accumulation resulting from the maintenance of active sucrose synthesis could be associated with superior turf performance during drought stress, whereas increased fructan accumulation could contribute to rapid re-growth and post-drought recovery on re-watering in kentucky bluegrass.