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Contrasting responses to drought stress in herbaceous perennial legumes

Pang, J., Yang, J., Ward, P., Siddique, K. H. M., Lambers, H., Tibbett, M. ORCID: and Ryan, M. (2011) Contrasting responses to drought stress in herbaceous perennial legumes. Plant and Soil, 348 (1-2). pp. 299-314. ISSN 0032-079X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s11104-011-0904-x


Background and aims Medicago sativa L. is widely grown in southern Australia, but is poorly adapted to dry, hot summers. This study aimed to identify perennial herbaceous legumes with greater resistance to drought stress and explore their adaptive strategies. Methods Ten herbaceous perennial legume species/accessions were grown in deep pots in a sandy, low-phosphorus field soil in a glasshouse. Drought stress was imposed by ceasing to water. A companion M. sativa plant in each pot minimised differences in leaf area and water consumption among species. Plants were harvested when stomatal conductance of stressed plants decreased to around 10% of well watered plants. Results A range of responses to drought stress were identified, including: reduced shoot growth; leaf curling; thicker pubescence on leaves and stems; an increased root:shoot ratio; an increase, decrease or no change in root distribution with depth; reductions in specific leaf area or leaf water potential; and osmotic adjustment. The suite of changes differed substantially among species and, less so, among accessions. Conclusions The inter- and intra-specific variability of responses to drought-stress in the plants examined suggests a wide range of strategies are available in perennial legumes to cope with drying conditions, and these could be harnessed in breeding/selection programs.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:42815

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