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Tolerance and physiological responses of Phragmites australis to water deficit
Pagter, M.; Bragato, C.; Brix, H. (2005). Tolerance and physiological responses of Phragmites australis to water deficit. Aquat. Bot. 81(4): 285-299. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquabot.2005.01.002
In: Aquatic Botany. Elsevier Science: Tokyo; Oxford; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0304-3770, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Drought tolerance; Osmotic adaptations; Photosynthesis; Proline; Water stress; Wetlands; Brackish water; Fresh water

Authors  Top 
  • Pagter, M.
  • Bragato, C.
  • Brix, H.

Abstract
    The water stress tolerance of Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin ex. Steud. grown in the laboratory were investigated by examining effects of different levels of imposed water deficits on growth, photosynthesis and various physiological traits related to water stress. Individual plants were grown under conditions of unrestricted water supply and compared with groups of plants receiving 60, 30, 15 or 5% of previous daily water requirements, respectively. Water deficit was found to reduce the leaf area and the leaf biomass per plant due to decreased production of new leaves, increased leaf shedding and reduced average leaf size. Leaf production and leaf expansion growth were very sensitive to water availability and were reduced when plants were subjected to fairly mild water deficit. Osmolality in sap expressed from leaves and the concentration of proline in leaves were only significantly increased in severely stressed plants, indicating that osmotic adjustment was of minor importance until a critical stress level was reached. Photosynthetic parameters were rather unaffected until the water availability was very low and led to the assertion that reduced CO2 assimilation was mainly due to stomatal closure and not biochemical changes. Water stress had no effect on the activity of Rubisco. The CO2 assimilation rate and stomatal conductance decreased in such a way that the intrinsic water use efficiency (A/gs) increased, indicating efficient CO2 utilization in water stressed plants. The apparent quantum yield (φi) was reduced in leaves of the most stressed plants, probably due to a decrease in the CO2 molar fraction in the chloroplasts following stomatal closure. The initial response of P. australis to water deficit is a reduction in leaf area, the remaining leaves staying physiological rather well functioning until they are severely stressed. A high intrinsic water use efficiency and the ability to maintain some capacity for photosynthesis under severe water stress can undoubtedly contribute to the survival of P. australis under dry conditions. Taken together with its well-developed adaptations to flooding, P. australis seems very well adapted to grow in wetland areas with a widely fluctuating hydroperiod. P. australis grows very well in rather deep water, but can also tolerate extensive periods of drought with reduced availability of water.

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