New Plant Growth Regulators Protect Photosynthesis and Enhance Growth Under Drought of Jack Pine Seedlings
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To determine whether natural plant growth regulators (PGRs) can enhance drought tolerance and the competitive ability of transplanted seedlings, 1.5-year-old jack pine (Pinus banksana Lamb.) seedlings were treated with homobrassinolide, salicylic acid, and two polyamines, spermine and spermidine, triacontanol, abscisic acid (ABA), and the synthetic antioxidant, Ambiol. PGRs were fed into the xylem for 7 days and plants were droughted by withholding water for 12 days. ABA, Ambiol, spermidine, and spermine at a concentration of 10 μg L−1 stimulated elongation growth under drought, whereas ABA, Ambiol, and spermidine maintained higher photosynthetic rates, higher water use efficiency, and lower Ci/Ca ratio under drought compared with control plants. The damaging effects of drought on membrane leakage was reversed by Ambiol, ABA, triacontanol, spermidine, and spermine. Because ABA, Ambiol, and both polyamines enhanced elongation growth and also reduced membrane damage in jack pine under drought, they show promise as treatments to harden seedlings against environmental stress. The protective action of these compounds on membrane integrity was associated with an inhibition of ethylene evolution, with a reduction in transpiration rate and an enhancement of photosynthesis, which together increased water use efficiency under drought. Although most of the tested compounds acted as antitranspirants, the inhibition in membrane leakage in ABA-, Ambiol-, and polyamine-treated plants appeared more closely related to the antiethylene action.
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