Morpho-physiological and biochemical responses of four ornamental herbaceous species to water stress

  • Zahra Nazemi Rafi
  • Fatemeh KazemiEmail author
  • Ali Tehranifar
Original Article


Understanding of water-deficit responses of plants can lead to better establishment and management of water-conserving landscapes. Due to the importance of landscape plants and the need for water relations of field-grown herbaceous species, this study investigated morphological and biochemical responses of Malva sylvestris, Althea rosea, Callistephus chinensis and Rudbeckia hirta under water stress. The main plots were the four plant species and the subplots were irrigation levels of 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% reference evapotranspiration (ET0). The results indicated that 75% ET0 irrigation treatment had no effect on the relative water content of Althea rosea and R. hirta. Althea rosea and R. hirta had the highest deficit-irrigation tolerance index for root length and root density in 25% ET0. Only A. rosea, exhibited no oxidative stress as reduced chlorophyll content under 75% ET0–50% ET0, and also under 50% ET0–25% ET0. Only in R. hirta, the ratio of chlorophyll a/b was linearly increased. Water stress had no effect on total soluble carbohydrates in C. chinensis, R. hirta and M. sylvestris. Moving from 75 to 25% ET0, R. hirta showed the lowest electrolyte leakage which was followed by A. rosea. Althea rosea and R. hirta displayed a drought-avoidance mechanism.


Landscape plants Deficit irrigation Osmolytes Relative water content Chlorophyll Growth Drought tolerance index 



We acknowledge the support of Mashhad Botanic Garden, especially Dr. Zarif and Dr. Zarrin, and Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran, during the course of this study.


  1. Agastian P, Kingsley SJ, Vivekanandan M (2000) Effect of salinity on photosynthesis and biochemical characteristics in mulberry genotypes. Photosynthetica 38:287–290. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al Hassan M, Fuertes MM, Sánchez FJR, Vicente O, Boscaiu M (2015) Effects of salt and water stress on plant growth and on accumulation of osmolytes and antioxidant compounds in cherry tomato. Not Bot Hortic Agrobot Cluj-Napoca 43:1–11Google Scholar
  3. Allen RG, Walter IA, Elliott R, Mecham B, Jensen ME, Itenfisu D, Howell TA, Snyder R, Brown P, Echings S, Spofford T (2000) Issues, requirements and challenges in selecting and specifying a standardized ET equation. In: Proceedings of 4th national irrigation symp, pp 201–208Google Scholar
  4. Álvarez S, Sánchez-Blanco MJ (2013) Changes in growth rate, root morphology and water use efficiency of potted Callistemon citrinus plants in response to different levels of water deficit. Sci hortic 156:54–62. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Álvarez S, Castillo M, Acosta J, Navarro A, Sánchez-Blanco M (2010) Photosynthetic response, biomass distribution and water status changes in Rhamnus alaternus plants during drought. In: XXVIII international horticultural congress on science and horticulture for people (IHC2010): international symposium on 937, pp 853–860.
  6. Álvarez S, Navarro A, Nicolás E, Sánchez-Blanco MJ (2011) Transpiration, photosynthetic responses, tissue water relations and dry mass partitioning in Callistemon plants during drought conditions. Sci Hortic 129:306–312. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ashraf M, Foolad M (2007) Roles of glycine betaine and proline in improving plant abiotic stress resistance. Environ Exp Bot 59:206–216. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Augé RM, Stodola AJ, Moore JL, Klingeman WE, Duan X (2003) Comparative dehydration tolerance of foliage of several ornamental crops. Sci hortic 98:511–516. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bajji M, Kinet J-M, Lutts S (2002) The use of the electrolyte leakage method for assessing cell membrane stability as a water stress tolerance test in durum wheat. Plant Growth Regul 36:61–70. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bañon S, Fernandez J, Franco J, Torrecillas A, Alarcón J, Sánchez-Blanco MJ (2004) Effects of water stress and night temperature preconditioning on water relations and morphological and anatomical changes of Lotus creticus plants. Sci Hortic 101:333–342. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bañón S, Ochoa J, Franco J, Alarcón J, Sánchez-Blanco MJ (2006) Hardening of oleander seedlings by deficit irrigation and low air humidity. Environ Exp Bot 56:36–43. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Basu P, Ali M, Chaturvedi S (2004) Adaptation of photosynthetic components of chickpea to water stress. In: 4th International crop science congress, pp 358–360Google Scholar
  13. Bates L, Waldren R, Teare I (1973) Rapid determination of free proline for water-stress studies. Plant Soil 39:205–207. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bautista I et al (2016) Environmentally induced changes in antioxidant phenolic compounds levels in wild plants. Acta Physiol Plant 38:9. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Blum A, Ebercon A (1981) Cell membrane stability as a measure of drought and heat tolerance in wheat 1. Crop Sci 21:43–47. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bukhov N, Sabat SC, Mohanty P (1990) Analysis of chlorophyll a fluoresence changes in weak light in heat treated Amaranthus chloroplasts. Photosynth Res 23:81–87. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Cameron R, Harrison-Murray R, Atkinson C, Judd H (2006) Regulated deficit irrigation—a means to control growth in woody ornamentals. J Hortic Sci Biotech 81:435–443. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chen SJ, Hung KT, Kao CH (1997) Ammonium accumulation is associated with senescence of rice leaves. Plant Growth Regul 21:195–201. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chyliński WK, Łukaszewska AJ, Kutnik K (2007) Drought response of two bedding plants. Acta Physiol Plant 29:399–406. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cicevan R, Al Hassan M, Sestras AF, Prohens J, Vicente O, Sestras RE, Boscaiu M (2016) Screening for drought tolerance in cultivars of the ornamental genus Tagetes (Asteraceae). PeerJ 4:e2133. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Clavel D, Drame NK, Roy-Macauley H, Braconnier S, Laffray D (2005) Analysis of early responses to drought associated with field drought adaptation in four Sahelian groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) cultivars. Environ Exp Bot 54:219–230. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cregg B (2002) Improving drought tolerance of trees: theoretical and practical considerations. In: XXVI International horticultural congress: nursery crops; development, evaluation, production and use 630, pp 147–158Google Scholar
  23. de Sousa MA, Lima M (2010) Influence of suppression of the irrigation in stages of growth of bean cv. Carioca comum. Biosci J 26:550–557Google Scholar
  24. Di Ferdinando M, Brunetti C, Fini A, Tattini M (2012) Flavonoids as antioxidants in plants under abiotic stresses. In: Ahmad P, Prasad M (eds) Abiotic stress responses in plants. Springer, New York, pp 159–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Di Ferdinando M, Brunetti C, Agati G, Tattini M (2014) Multiple functions of polyphenols in plants inhabiting unfavorable Mediterranean areas. Environ Exp Bot 103:107–116. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. DuBois M, Gilles KA, Hamilton JK et al (1956) Colorimetric method for determination of sugars and related substances. Anal Chem 28:350–356. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fang Y, Xiong L (2015) General mechanisms of drought response and their application in drought resistance improvement in plants. Cell Mol life Sci 72:673–689. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Fernández J, Balenzategui L, Banon S, Franco J (2006) Induction of drought tolerance by paclobutrazol and irrigation deficit in Phillyrea angustifolia during the nursery period. Sci Hortic 107:277–283. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Flint H, Boyce B, Beattie D (1967) Index of injury—a useful expression of freezing injury to plant tissues as determined by the electrolytic method. Can J Plant Sci 47:229–230. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Forster B, Thomas W, Chloupek O (2005) Genetic controls of barley root systems and their associations with plant performance. Asp Appl Biol 73:199–204Google Scholar
  31. Franco J, Martínez-Sánchez J, Fernández J, Bañón S (2006) Selection and nursery production of ornamental plants for landscaping and xerogardening in semi-arid environments. J Hortic Sci Biotech 81:3–17. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Franco J, Bañón S, Vicente M, Miralles J, Martínez-Sánchez J (2011) Root development in horticultural plants grown under abiotic stress conditions—a review. J Hortic Sci Biotechnol 86:543–556. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gil R, Lull C, Boscaiu M, Bautista I, Lidon A, Vicente O (2011) Soluble carbohydrates as osmolytes in several halophytes from a Mediterranean salt marsh. Not Bot Hortic Agrobot Cluj-Napoca 39:9–17. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gudin S (2003) Breeding overview. Encyclopedia of rose science. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  35. Gzik A (1996) Accumulation of proline and pattern of α-amino acids in sugar beet plants in response to osmotic, water and salt stress. Environ Exp Bot 36:29–38. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hammer GL, Dong Z, McLean G, Doherty A, Messina C, Schussler J, Zinselmeier C, Paszkiewicz S, Cooper M (2009) Can changes in canopy and/or root system architecture explain historical maize yield trends in the U.S. corn belt? Crop Sci 49:299–312. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hillová D, Takácsová M, Lichtnerová H (2014) Stomatal response to water stress in herbaceous perennials. In: Plants in urban areas and landscape, Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra, pp 52–56Google Scholar
  38. Jensen C, Luxmoore R, Vangundy S, Stolzy L (1969) Root air measurements by a pycnometer method 1. Agron J 61:474–475. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Johnson W, Jackson L, Ochoa O, Van Wijk R, Peleman J, Clair DS, Michelmore R (2000) Lettuce, a shallow-rooted crop, and Lactuca serriola, its wild progenitor, differ at QTL determining root architecture and deep soil water exploitation. TAG Theor Appl Genet 101:1066–1073. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Karimi S, Hojati S, Eshghi S, Moghaddam RN, Jandoust S (2012) Magnetic exposure improves tolerance of fig ‘Sabz’ explants to drought stress induced in vitro. Sci Hortic 137:95–99. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Karimi S, Yadollahi A, Arzani K (2013) Responses of almond genotypes to osmotic stress induced in vitro. J Nuts 4:1–7Google Scholar
  42. Kazemi F, Beecham S, Gibbs J (2011) Streetscape biodiversity and the role of bioretention swales in an Australian urban environment. Landsc Urban Plan 101:139–148. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Khosh-Khui M, Ashiri F, Saharkhiz M (2012) Effects of irrigation regimes on antioxidant activity and total phenolic content of thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.). Med Aromat Plants 1:1–7Google Scholar
  44. Kozlowski T (1968) Water deficits and plant growth. Academic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  45. Kramer PJ, Duke JB (1969) Plant and soil water relationships: a modern synthesis, 1st edn. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Krasensky J, Jonak C (2012) Drought, salt, and temperature stress-induced metabolic rearrangements and regulatory networks. J Exp Bot 63:1593–1608. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Levitt L (1980) Responses of plants to environmental stresses: water, radiation, salt and other stresses, 2nd edn, vol 2. Academic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  48. Lichtenthaler HK, Wellburn AR (1983) Determinations of total carotenoids and chlorophylls a and b of leaf extracts in different solvents. Biochem Soc Trans 11:591–592. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lockett L, Montague T, McKenney C, Auld D (2002) Assessing public opinion on water conservation and water conserving landscapes in the semiarid southwestern United States. Horttech 12:392–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Loggini B, Scartazza A, Brugnoli E, Navari-Izzo F (1999) Antioxidative defense system, pigment composition, and photosynthetic efficiency in two wheat cultivars subjected to drought. Plant Physiol 119:1091–1100. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  51. Lutts S, Kinet J, Bouharmont J (1996) NaCl-induced senescence in leaves of rice (Oryza sativa L.) cultivars differing in salinity resistance. Ann Bot 78:389–398. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nautiyal P, Rachaputi NR, Joshi Y (2002) Moisture-deficit-induced changes in leaf-water content, leaf carbon exchange rate and biomass production in groundnut cultivars differing in specific leaf area. Field Crops Res 74:67–79. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Nazemi Rafi Z, Kazemi F, Tehranifar A (2019) Effects of various irrigation regimes on water use efficiency and visual quality of some ornamental herbaceous plants in the field. Agric Water Manage 212:78–87. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Niu G, Rodriguez DS, Mackay W (2008) Growth and physiological responses to drought stress in four oleander clones. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 133:188–196Google Scholar
  55. Parida AK, Das AB (2005) Salt tolerance and salinity effects on plants: a review. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 60:324–349. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Pourghayoumi M, Rahemi M, Bakhshi D, Aalami A, Kamgar-Haghighi AA (2017) Responses of pomegranate cultivars to severe water stress and recovery: changes on antioxidant enzyme activities, gene expression patterns and water stress responsive metabolites. Physiol Mol Biol Plants 23:321–330. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  57. Price AH, Steele K, Moore B, Jones R (2002) Upland rice grown in soil-filled chambers and exposed to contrasting water-deficit regimes: II. Mapping quantitative trait loci for root morphology and distribution. F Crop Res 76:25–43. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rouhi V, Samson R, Lemeur R, Van Damme P (2007) Photosynthetic gas exchange characteristics in three different almond species during drought stress and subsequent recovery. Environ Exp Bot 59:117–129. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ruttanaprasert R, Jogloy S, Vorasoot N, Kesmala T, Kanwar RS, Holbrook CC, Patanothai A (2015) Root responses of Jerusalem artichoke genotypes to different water regimes. Biomass Bioenerg 81:369–377. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sánchez-Blanco MJ, Álvarez S, Ortuño MF, Ruiz-Sánchez MC (2014) Root system response to drought and salinity: root distribution and water transport. In: Morte A, Varma A (eds) Root engineering. Springer, New York, pp 325–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schiop ST, Al Hassan M, Sestras AF, Boscaiu M, Sestras RE, Vicente O (2015) Identification of salt stress biomarkers in romanian carpathian populations of Picea abies (L.) Karst. PLOS One 10:e0135419. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  62. Shober AL, Moore KA, Wiese C, Scheiber SM, Gilman EF, Paz M, Brennan MM, Vyapari S (2009) Posttransplant irrigation frequency affects growth of container-grown sweet viburnum in three hardiness zones. HortSci 44:1683–1687Google Scholar
  63. Siddique MRB, Hamid A, Islam MS (2000) Drought stress effects on water relations of wheat. Bot Bull Acad Sin 41:35–39. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Singleton VL, Rossi JA (1965) Colorimetry of total phenolics with phosphomolybdic–phosphotungstic acid reagents. Am J Enol Vitic 16:144–158Google Scholar
  65. Starman T, Lombardini L (2006) Growth, gas exchange, and chlorophyll fluorescence of four ornamental herbaceous perennials during water deficit conditions. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 131:469–475Google Scholar
  66. Sun J, Gu J, Zeng J, Han S, Song A, Chen F, Fang W, Jiang J, Chen S (2013) Changes in leaf morphology, antioxidant activity and photosynthesis capacity in two different drought-tolerant cultivars of chrysanthemum during and after water stress. Sci Hortic 161:249–258. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Szabados L, Savoure A (2010) Proline: a multifunctional amino acid. Trends Plant Sci 15:89–97. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tajamoliyan M, Irannezhad PMH, Malekinezhad H, Rad MH, Sodaizadeh H (2012) Effects of water deficit stress on physiological reaction in fortuynia bungei boiss. Iran J Rangel Plant Breed Genet Res 20:273–283Google Scholar
  69. Touchette BW, Iannacone LR, Turner GE, Frank AR (2007) Drought tolerance versus drought avoidance: a comparison of plant-water relations in herbaceous wetland plants subjected to water withdrawal and repletion. Wetlands 27:656–667.;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wade GL, Midcap JT, Coder KD, Landry GW, Tyson AW, Weatherly NJ (2010) Xeriscape: a guide to developing a water-wise landscape, University of Georgia. Accessed 22 Oct 2018
  71. Wasson AP, Richards RA, Chatrath R, Misra SC, Prasad SS, Rebetzke GJ, Kirkegaard JA, Christopher J, Watt M (2012) Traits and selection strategies to improve root systems and water uptake in water-limited wheat crops. J Exp Bot 63:3485–3498. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. Welsh DF, Welch WC, Duble RL (2007) Xeriscape… Landscape water conservation. Texas Farmer Collection. Accessed 22 Oct 2018
  73. Weng Q, Yang S (2004) Managing the adverse thermal effects of urban development in a densely populated Chinese city. J Environ Manage 70:145–156. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. Yadollahi A, Arzani K, Ebadi A, Wirthensohn M, Karimi S (2011) The response of different almond genotypes to moderate and severe water stress in order to screen for drought tolerance. Sci Hortic 129:403–413. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Yamasaki S, Dillenburg LR (1999) Measurements of leaf relative water content in Araucaria angustifolia. Rev Bras Fisiol Veg 11:69–75Google Scholar
  76. Yang L, Fountain JC, Wang H, Ni X, Ji P, Lee RD, Kemerait RC, Scully BT, Guo B (2015) Stress sensitivity is associated with differential accumulation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in maize genotypes with contrasting levels of drought tolerance. Int J Mol Sci 16:24791–24819. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  77. Zollinger N, Kjelgren R, Cerny-Koenig T, Kopp K, Koenig R (2006) Drought responses of six ornamental herbaceous perennials. Sci Hortic 109:267–274. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Horticulture and Landscape, Faculty of AgricultureFerdowsi University of MashhadMashhadIran

Personalised recommendations