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Yingmei Ma and Emily Merewitz

Salt stress is a major problem in turfgrass management. Investigation of metabolites, such as polyamines (PAs) that may improve salt tolerance of turfgrass species, is needed. Two independent growth chamber studies were conducted to evaluate physiological characteristics and changes in PAs, such as putrescine (Put), spermidine (Spd), and spermine (Spm), in response to salt stress in ‘Penncross’ and ‘PsgSLTZ’ creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera). The study also aimed to determine a method of PA extraction to improve PA yields from creeping bentgrass. Salt solutions were drench applied to plants growing in pure sand daily in a stepwise manner for ≈70 days in both studies. For both cultivars, salt stress caused an increase in leaf Na+ content, percent of electrolyte leakage (EL), and canopy temperature depression (CTD) while it caused a decrease in turf quality (TQ), osmotic potential (Ψs), and K+ and Ca2+ content compared with controls. In the early stages of salt stress, Put content increased in salt-stressed plants compared with controls. Spd content did not change significantly while a transient increase in Spm was observed in the later stage of salt stress. The PA quantification method used in this study included using formic acid during the extraction process, which exhibited enhanced quantification of PAs from creeping bentgrass compared with other methods previously published. Salinity stress upregulated the content of Put and Spm in leaf tissue, which may be involved in salinity tolerance in creeping bentgrass, while Spd accumulation may not be a major salt tolerance mechanism; supplementation with these biochemical compounds could be an alternative to improve creeping bentgrass salt tolerance.

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Sanalkumar Krishnan, Yingmei Ma, and Emily Merewitz

Mowing frequencies are associated with differences in disease susceptibility of turfgrasses, but how hormones respond to mowing practices are not fully understood. Two independent growth chamber experiments were conducted to determine how leaf trimming and heat stress play a role in modulating endogenous hormones within creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) leaf tissues. The study also aimed to evaluate whether there are hormone changes at 0, 15, and 30 minutes after leaf trimming (wounding). The effects of trimming and temperature on sod plugs of creeping bentgrass ‘Penncross’ and ‘Penn-G2’ were investigated under optimal conditions (23/20 °C day/night) and heat stress (30/25 °C day/night). Plants were 1) untrimmed and sampled by plucking at the leaf base, 2) untrimmed and sampled by cutting at 0, 15, and 30 minutes, or 3) trimmed once every 3 days. Salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid (JA), abscisic acid (ABA), and indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) were generally greater in untrimmed plants compared with plants trimmed every 3 days under high temperature conditions. Zeatin riboside (ZR) was lower in untrimmed plants compared with plants trimmed every 3 days. JA and gibberellic acid (GA) accumulated to greater levels in the plants after 15 and 30 minutes of sampling. Polyamines (PAs) exhibited a transient increase in putrescine (Put) due to wounding. The results demonstrate the importance of research practices that consider the timing of sampling turfgrass plants for hormone analysis, help elucidate why mowing practices may play a role in stress susceptibility, and may be applicable to various studies related to leaf wounding.

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Vijaya Shukla, Yingmei Ma, and Emily Merewitz

Polyamines (PAs) such as spermidine (Spd), spermine (Spm), and putrescine are involved in various biological functions including abiotic stress response. Whether PAs play an important role in cool-season turfgrass tolerance of drought stress is not well investigated. We have conducted a series of growth chamber (GC) studies including one hydroponic and two soil-based GC studies with creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) ‘Penncross’ and ‘Penn-G2’ to determine whether exogenous application of PAs may affect plant growth and stress tolerance. Application of relatively low concentrations of Spd (500 or 750 μM) or Spm (500 μM) promoted tillering rates under optimal growth conditions in hydroponics. The same levels of PA treatments moderated the damages associated with drought stress in the soil-based GC studies. The most notable differences in drought response associated with PA treatment were increased membrane health. This was observed as greater photochemical efficiency, higher quantum yield, less electrolyte leakage, and less lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde content) in PA-treated plants compared with control plants. The relatively low level of exogenous PAs used in this study did not have a major effect on plant water relations under drought stress. Canopy temperatures and soil moisture content were unaffected by any PA treatment; however, on some days during early drought stress, relative water content was significantly higher in PA-treated plants compared with controls. PA could play a major role in protecting photosynthetic and cellular membranes during drought stress of creeping bentgrass.

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Jack E. Staub, Matthew D. Robbins, Yingmei Ma, and Paul G. Johnson

Continued reduction in limited natural resources worldwide increasingly necessitates the incorporation of low-maintenance and low-input plant materials into urban landscapes. Some fine-leaved Festuca grass species have been used in formal gardens and native urban landscapes because of their inherent tolerance to abiotic stresses, but native, ornamental types (tall and non-spreading with multicolored culms and panicles) are not common in landscapes of the western United States. A native fine-leaved Festuca collection made in Montana (designated FEID 9025897) by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Services possesses such ornamental characteristics but has not been evaluated for its horticultural potential. Therefore, a study was designed to assess its phenotypic and genotypic attributes by cloning 270 FEID 9025897 plants and evaluating them along with native F. idahoensis and F. ovina PIs (five) and commercial checks (five) for genetic diversity and plant morphology for 2 years (2010–11). Plant genetic constitution was determined using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis. Plant height, width, biomass, relative vigor (visual rating of 0 = dead to 5 = green, abundant growth), persistence (number of plants alive per plot), and regrowth after clipping (visual rating of 0 = none to 5 = most) were estimated by evaluation of plants under replication at Hyde Park, UT. Based on AFLP-based coancestry analysis, FEID 9025897 plants possessed considerable genetic affinities with F. idahoensis. Morphological traits as averaged over both years varied in height (13.9 to 105.0 cm), width (9.9 to 66.2 cm), biomass (0 to 170.4 g), vigor (0.2 to 4.7), persistence (0 to 3.9), and regrowth (0 to 4.0). Based on these differences, 19 (7%) FEID 9025897 plants were identified for their ornamental potential that possessed multicolored (red, orange, and yellow) culms and varied in morphology with 2-year means of height (79.8 cm), width (45.2 cm), biomass (88.5 g), vigor (2.9), persistence (1.8), and regrowth (3.7).