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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 40(4)

Temporal and spatial patterns of soil water extraction and drought resistance among genotypes of a perennial C4 grass

Yi Zhou A , Christopher J. Lambrides A C , Matthew B. Roche B , Alan Duff B and Shu Fukai A

A The University of Queensland, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Qld 4072, Australia.
B The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Qld 4163, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: chris.lambrides@uq.edu.au

Functional Plant Biology 40(4) 379-392 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/FP12270
Submitted: 13 September 2012  Accepted: 4 December 2012   Published: 11 February 2013

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The objective of this study was to investigate patterns of soil water extraction and drought resistance among genotypes of bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.) a perennial C4 grass. Four wild Australian ecotypes (1–1, 25a1, 40–1, and 81–1) and four cultivars (CT2, Grand Prix, Legend, and Wintergreen) were examined in field experiments with rainfall excluded to monitor soil water extraction at 30–190 cm depths. In the study we defined drought resistance as the ability to maintain green canopy cover under drought. The most drought resistant genotypes (40–1 and 25a1) maintained more green cover (55–85% vs 5–10%) during water deficit and extracted more soil water (120–160 mm vs 77–107 mm) than drought sensitive genotypes, especially at depths from 50 to 110 cm, though all genotypes extracted water to 190 cm. The maintenance of green cover and higher soil water extraction were associated with higher stomatal conductance, photosynthetic rate and relative water content. For all genotypes, the pattern of water use as a percentage of total water use was similar across depth and time We propose the observed genetic variation was related to different root characteristics (root length density, hydraulic conductivity, root activity) although shoot sensitivity to drying soil cannot be ruled out.

Additional keywords: drought tolerance, green couch grass, turfgrass, water use.


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