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Novel Miscanthus genotypes selected for different drought tolerance phenotypes show enhanced tolerance across combinations of salinity and drought treatments.

Authors
  • Stavridou, Evangelia1, 2
  • Webster, Richard J3
  • Robson, Paul R H1
  • 1 Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, UK.
  • 2 Institute of Applied Biosciences, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, Thessaloniki, Greece. , (Greece)
  • 3 School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Annals of Botany
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Oct 29, 2019
Volume
124
Issue
4
Pages
653–674
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcz009
PMID: 31665760
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Water deficit and salinity stresses are often experienced by plants concurrently; however, knowledge is limited about the effects of combined salinity and water deficit stress in plants, and especially in C4 bioenergy crops. Here we aim to understand how diverse drought tolerance traits may deliver tolerance to combinations of drought and salinity in C4 crops, and identify key traits that influence the productivity and biomass composition of novel Miscanthus genotypes under such conditions. Novel genotypes used included M. sinensis and M. floridulus species, pre-screened for different drought responses, plus the commercial accession Miscanthus × giganteus (M×g.). Plants were grown under control treatments, single stress or combinations of water deficit and moderate salinity stress. Morphophysiological responses, including growth, yield, gas exchange and leaf water relations and contents of proline, soluble sugars, ash and lignin were tested for significant genotypic and treatment effects. The results indicated that plants subjected to combined stresses showed more severe responses compared with single stresses. All novel drought-tolerant genotypes and M×g. were tolerant to moderate salinity stress. Biomass production in M. sinensis genotypes was more resilient to co-occurring stresses than that in M×g. and M. floridulus, which, despite the yield penalty produced more biomass overall. A stay-green M. sinensis genotype adopted a conservative growth strategy with few significant treatment effects. Proline biosynthesis was species-specific and was triggered by salinity and co-occurring stress treatments, mainly in M. floridulus. The ash content was compartmentalized differently in leaves and stems in the novel genotypes, indicating different mechanisms of ion accumulation. This study highlights the potential to select novel drought-tolerant Miscanthus genotypes that are resilient to combinations of stress and is expected to contribute to a deeper fundamental knowledge of different mechanistic responses identified for further exploitation in developing resilient Miscanthus crops. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company.

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