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Drought-resistance mechanisms of seven warm-season turfgrasses under surface soil drying. II. Root aspects

Huang, B., Duncan, R.R., Carrow, R.N.
Crop science 1997 v.37 no.6 pp. 1863-1869
Eremochloa ophiuroides, Cynodon dactylon, Paspalum vaginatum, Zoysia japonica, Zoysia tenuifolia, hybrids, drought tolerance, water use efficiency, plant morphology, ecotypes, soil water content, roots, water uptake, root systems
Knowledge of drought-resistance mechanisms in turfgrasses would improve management strategies and facilitate turfgrass breeding for drought resistance. The experiment investigated root morphological and physiological characteristics in response to surface soil drying and rewatering for bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.'Common'], centipedegrass [Eremochloa ophiuroides (Munro) Hack TifBlair'], seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum Swartz, four ecotypes), and zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica Steudel x Z. tenuifolia Steudel 'Emerald'). Plants were grown in sectioned PVC tubes with four soil moisture regimes in a greenhouse during 1995 and 1996. Root growth was reduced when the upper 20- and 40-cm soil layers dried for Emerald zoysiagrass. Common bermudagrass, and Adalayd paspalum, but only with upper 440-cm soil drying for PI299042, AP14, and PI 509018 paspalums, and TifBlair centipedegrass. Root dry weight recovered fully to control levels after rewatering for TifBlair centipedegrass and the three paspalum accession, but only partially for Adalayd paspalum, Common bermudagrass, and Emerald zoysiagrass. Superior drought resistance to surface soil drying for PI 509018 paspalum and TifBlair centipedegrass was associated with enhanced root growth and rapid root water uptake at deeper soil layers, maintenance of root viability at the surface drying soil, and rapid root regeneration after rewatering. Differences in these drought avoidance characteristics among turfgrasses could serve as selection criteria for improving turf drought resistance.