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Yali Song and Bingru Huang

Drought and heat stress can limit the growth of cool-season grass species, whereas doubling ambient CO2 has been shown to promote plant growth. The objectives of this study were to examine differential responses of shoot and root growth as well as photosynthesis and respiration to doubling ambient CO2 during drought or heat stress alone or the two stresses combined and to determine the relative effectiveness of doubling ambient CO2 in mitigating negative effects of drought or heat stress alone and in combination in a cool-season perennial grass species. Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis cv. Baron) plants were exposed to ambient CO2 (400 μL·L−1) or doubling ambient CO2 (800 μL·L−1) concentrations while subjected to the following stress treatments in growth chambers: drought stress by withholding irrigation, heat stress (35 °C), or the combined two stresses for 28 days. Doubling ambient CO2 increased root and shoot growth as well as root/shoot ratio under all treatments. Doubling ambient CO2 enhanced leaf net photosynthetic rate (Pn) to a greater extent under drought or heat alone, whereas it reduced respiration rate (R), to a larger degree under heat and the combined stress, leading to a greater ratio of Pn/R. Doubling ambient CO2 mitigated adverse physiological effects of drought or heat stress alone, whereas fewer effects were observed under the combined drought and heat stress. The positive effects of doubling ambient CO2 were associated with the development of roots biomass and the maintenance of a positive carbon balance under either stress alone or the combined drought and heat stress.

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Yali Song, Patrick Burgess, Hairong Han and Bingru Huang

Turfgrass growth and physiological activities are sensitive to temperatures and are affected by mowing height. Increasing temperatures associated with global climate change may limit photosynthetic capacity of established turfgrass stands. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of mowing height on carbon exchange of a turfgrass system and consequential effects on turfgrass growth in response to temperature variations across the growing season in kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis cv. Baron) stands. Mature (8 years old) turfgrass was mowed at 7.6 cm [high mowing height (HM)] or 3.8 cm [low mowing height (LM)] during 2012 and 2013. Both LM and HM plots displayed significant decline in turf quality (TQ), shoot biomass, and canopy photosynthetic rate (Pn) with increasing air temperature above 23–24 °C in both years and the decline was more pronounced for LM plots. Turf plots were carbon emitters when total respiration rate of shoots, roots, and soil (Rtotal) exceeded canopy Pn under high temperatures during July–September but maintained net carbon gain during cooler seasons (May and June) due to greater Pn to Rtotal ratio (Pn:Rtotal). Lowering mowing height accelerated carbon loss by reducing canopy Pn, particularly under high temperatures. Our results suggested that whether mature turfgrass stands fix or emit carbon is heavily dependent on interaction between seasonal temperatures and mowing height gauging whole-stand photosynthetic capacity. Furthermore, increasing mowing height during summer months may offset the deleterious effects of high temperature by maintaining positive carbon balance within the turfgrass system.