The study was conducted to investigate carbon metabolic responses to surface soil drying for cool-season grasses. Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinaceae Schreb.) were grown in a greenhouse in split tubes consisting of two sections. Plants were subjected to three soil moisture regimes: (1) well-watered control: (2) drying of upper 20-cm soil (upper drying); and (3) drying of whole 40-cm soil profile (full drying). Upper drying for 30 d had no dramatic effects on leaf water potential (Ψleaf) and canopy photosynthetic rate (Pn) in either grass species compared to the well-watered control, but it reduced canopy respiration rate (Rcanopy) and root respiration rate in the top 20 cm of soil (Rtop). For both species in the lower 20 cm of wet soil, root respiration rates (Rbottom) were similar to the control levels, and carbon allocation to roots increased with the upper soil drying, particularly for tall fescue. The proportion of roots decreased in the 0-20 cm drying soil, but increased in the lower 20 cm wet soil for both grass species: the increase was greater for tall fescue. The Ψleaf, Pn, Rcanopy, Rtop, Rbottom, and carbon allocation to roots in both soil layers were all significantly higher for upper dried plants than for fully dried plants of both grass species. The reductions in Rcanopy and Rtop in surface drying soil and increases in root respiration and carbon allocation to roots in lower wet soil could help these grasses cope with surface-soil drought stress.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Soil Science
- Plant Science
- Carbon allocation
- Root respiration