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Open AccessArticle

Growth and Physiological Responses of Temperate Pasture Species to Consecutive Heat and Drought Stresses

Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
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Plants 2019, 8(7), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8070227
Received: 25 June 2019 / Revised: 13 July 2019 / Accepted: 14 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adapting Crops to Climate Change)
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Abstract

Heat and drought are two major limiting factors for perennial pasture production in south eastern Australia. Although previous studies have focused on the effects of prolonged heat and drought stresses on pasture growth and physiology, the effects of short term recurring combined heat and drought stresses and the recovery from them have not been studied in detail. A controlled environment experiment was conducted to investigate the growth and physiological responses of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata L.), tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) and chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) plants exposed to two consecutive seven day heat (control = 25/15 °C day/night; moderate = 30/20 °C day/night and severe = 35/30 °C day/night) and/or drought stresses each followed by a seven day recovery period. During the first moderate and severe heat and drought treatments, maximum photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (Fv/Fm), cell membrane permeability and relative leaf water content decreased in chicory and tall fescue compared to perennial ryegrass and cocksfoot. However, during the second moderate heat and drought treatment, all species showed less reduction in the same parameters suggesting that these species acclimated to consecutive moderate heat and drought stresses. Chicory was the only species that was not affected by the second severe heat and drought stress while physiological parameters of all grass species were reduced closer to minimum values. Irrigation mitigated the negative effects of heat stress by cooling the canopies 1–3 °C below air temperatures with the most cooling observed in chicory. All the species exposed to moderate heat and drought were fully recovered and those exposed to severe heat and drought recovered partially at the end of the experiment. These findings suggest that chicory may be a potential species for areas subject to frequent heat and drought stress. View Full-Text
Keywords: perennial pastures; combined heat and drought stress; membrane permeability; maximum photochemical efficiency of PS II; acclimation perennial pastures; combined heat and drought stress; membrane permeability; maximum photochemical efficiency of PS II; acclimation
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Perera, R.S.; Cullen, B.R.; Eckard, R.J. Growth and Physiological Responses of Temperate Pasture Species to Consecutive Heat and Drought Stresses. Plants 2019, 8, 227.

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