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John Pote, Zhaolong Wang and Bingru Huang

Knowledge of the level of soil temperatures that is detrimental for shoot and root growth for cool-season grasses may help develop heat-tolerant plants and effective management practices to improve summer performance. The objectives of this study were to determine the level and duration of high temperatures in the root zone that will induce decline for various growth and physiological parameters and to compare the responses of different physiological parameters and cultivars to high root-zone temperatures. Nine creeping bentgrass [Agrostis stolonifera L. var. palustris (Huds.) Farw.] cultivars were subjected to eight root-zone temperatures (20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 31, 35 °C) in water baths while exposed to a constant air temperature of 20 °C for 54 days. Root number, dry weight, and depth, active root biomass, turf quality, leaf cytokinin content, and canopy net photosynthetic rate (Pn), decreased in all nine cultivars as root-zone temperature increased from 20 to 35 °C, but the time and temperature at which the decline occurred varied for each parameter measured. Pn, cytokinin content, root number, and turf quality declined at 23, 27, 27, and 35 °C, respectively, after 28 days of exposure. Active root biomass, root number, root dry weight, turf quality, and rooting depth declined at 23, 25, 25, 25, and 35 °C, respectively, at 54 days. At a 31 °C root-zone temperature the decline in root number, cytokinin content, and turf quality occurred at 19, 37, and 47 days, respectively. The results suggest that root-zone temperatures of 23 °C or above this level were detrimental to root activities, Pn, and overall turf growth. Root and Pn decline at lower temperatures and earlier in the study than turf quality suggest that the disturbance of physiological activities of roots and leaves could lead to turfgrass quality decline at high root-zone temperatures.

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Zhaolong Wang, John Pote and Bingru Huang

This study was designed to examine whether shoot injury induced by high root-zone temperature is associated with changes in shoot detoxifying metabolism and to determine the level and duration of high root-zone temperatures that would induce physiological changes in two cultivars of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera var. palustris Huds) differing in heat tolerance. Plants of `Penn A-4' (heat tolerant) and `Putter' (heat susceptible) were grown in sand and exposed to root-zone temperatures of 20 (control), 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 31, and 35 °C in water baths while air temperature was maintained at 20 °C in a growth chamber. Turf quality, leaf cytokinin content, and antioxidant enzyme activities declined at increased soil temperatures and the duration of treatment for both cultivars. A decline in turf quality occurred following 40 days of exposure to 35 °C for `Penn A-4' and 26 days of exposure to 31 °C for `Putter'. The root-zone temperature causing the decline of isopentenyl adenosine and zeatin cytokinins was 25 °C at 37 d for `Putter' and 27 °C at 47 days for `Penn A-4'. The temperature causing the decline of superoxide dismutase and catalase activities was 25 °C and 27 °C at 33 days for `Putter' and 27 °C and 31 °C at 43 days for Penn A-4, respectively. Malondialdehyde content increased at 27 °C for `Putter' and 31 °C for `Penn A-4' at 43 days of treatment. The decline in cytokinin content and antioxidant enzyme activity occurred at a lower soil temperature and earlier during the treatment than the decline in turf quality, possibly contributing to turf quality decline. The root-zone temperatures causing the decline in turf quality, cytokinin content, and oxidative damage were higher in the heat-tolerant cultivar than heat-susceptible cultivar.

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John W. Pote, Chhandak Basu, Zhongchun Jiang and W. Michael Sullivan

Leaching-induced N losses have been shown to be minimal under turfgrasses. This is likely due to superior ability of turfgrasses to absorb nitrate. No direct evidence for this theory has been reported. The present study quantified nitrate leaching under miniature turf and nitrate uptake by individual turfgrass plants, and established the relationship between nitrate leaching loss and nitrate uptake rate. Seedlings of six Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) cultivars, `Blacksburg', `Barzan', `Connie', `Dawn', `Eclipse', and `Gnome', were planted individually in polystyrene containers filled with silica sand. The plants were irrigated with tap water or a nutrient solution containing 1 mm nitrate on alternate days and mowed to a 5-cm height once each week for 25 weeks. Nitrate leaching potential was then determined by applying 15 to 52 mL of nutrient solutions containing 7 to 70 mg·L-1 nitrate-N into the containers and collecting leachate. After the leaching experiment, plants were excavated, roots were washed to remove sand, and the plants were grown individually in containers filled with 125 mL of a nutrient solution containing 8.4 mg·L-1 nitrate-N. Nitrate uptake rate was determined by monitoring nitrate depletion at 24-hour intervals. Leachate nitrate-N concentration ranged from 0.5 to 6 mg·L-1 depending on cultivar, initial nitrate-N concentration, irrigation volume, and timing of nitrate-N application. Significant intraspecific difference in nitrate uptake rate on a root length basis was observed. Nitrate uptake rate on a per plant basis was significantly (P ≤ 0.05) and negatively correlated (r = -0.65) with nitrate leaching loss. The results provide strong evidence that superior nitrate uptake ability of turfgrass roots could reduce leaching-induced nitrate-N losses.