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Shaoyun Lu, Zhongcheng Wang, Yuejing Niu, Zhenfei Guo, and Bingru Huang

Improving the drought tolerance of widely used bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. var. dactylon] is important for water conservation and producing quality turf with limited irrigation. Mutants of bermudagrass were generated using gamma-ray irradiation with an aim toward developing dwarf and drought-resistant bermudagrass. The objectives of this study were to compare morphological characteristics between radiation-induced mutants and the wild-type of bermudagrass and to determine antioxidant responses associated with changes in drought resistance in the bermudagrass mutants. Three mutant lines (7-9, 10-5, and 10-12) that exhibit slow growth and good turf quality were chosen for this study. Plants were exposed to drought stress by withholding irrigation in a greenhouse. Mutant lines had lower canopy height, shorter internodes, and shorter leaves than the wild type under well-watered conditions. Under drought stress, all three dwarf mutant lines maintained higher relative water content and lower ion leakage and malondialdehyde content than the wild type. Antioxidant enzyme activities decreased in response to the drought stress in the mutant lines and the wild type, whereas nonenzymatic antioxidants increased under drought stress. Compared with the wild type, higher enzyme activities and antioxidant contents were maintained in mutant lines under drought stress. Our results indicated that bermudagrass mutants induced by gamma radiation exhibited dwarf characteristics and improved drought resistance, which was associated with maintenance of higher levels of antioxidant enzyme activities and nonenzymatic antioxidant contents.

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Chuanhao Chen, Shaoyun Lu, Youguang Chen, Zhongcheng Wang, Yuejing Niu, and Zhenfei Guo

Breeding for dwarf-type bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) with enhanced drought resistance is important for producing quality turf with reduced irrigation. A dwarf-type mutant (S-20–1) that exhibits slower vertical growth, and shorter internodes and leaf length was selected from the gamma-ray–irradiated seeds of a bermudagrass cultivar Sundevil II (S-CK). S-20–1 had slower turf coverage than S-CK. Compared with S-CK, the vertical growth of S-20–1 was more promoted by gibberellin (GA3) treatment. S-20–1 showed an enhanced drought resistance in greenhouse and field tests. Under drought stress, S-20–1 maintained higher relative water content and lower levels of ion leakage, malondialdehyde, and leaf firing than S-CK. Antioxidant enzyme activities and antioxidant content showed no difference between S-20–1 and S-CK under well-watered conditions, while higher enzyme activities were maintained in S-20–1 under drought stress. Free proline accumulated in response to drought stress and showed a positive correlation to the increased ion leakage, while S-20–1 had lower levels than S-CK. Our results indicated that the dwarfism in S-20–1 induced by gamma-ray irradiation might be the result of less GA3 or decrease of sensitivity to GA3 in the mutant. The improved drought resistance of the mutant is associated with maintenance of higher levels of antioxidant enzyme activities. More accumulation of proline in S-CK than S-20–1 reflected a physiological response to the drought-induced injury rather than an association with drought resistance of S-20–1.