Despite evidence that prior exposure to drought can increase subsequent plant freezing tolerance, few studies have explored such interactions over ecologically relevant time spans. We examined the combined effects of drought and subsequent freezing on tiller growth and leaf sugar concentrations in the grass, Poa pratensis. We exposed tillers to no drought (−0.04 MPa), moderate drought (−0.19 MPa) or severe drought (−0.42 MPa) for 3 weeks in summer. Tillers were then frozen in autumn or spring at −5 °C (frost damage) or at 0 °C (control) for 3 days and harvested after a re‐growth period. For shoot growth, there was a significant interaction between drought and autumn freezing, whereby the relative effect of freezing on growth was least for the plants previously exposed to severe drought; however, there was no significant interaction between drought and spring freezing. For root growth, there were no significant interactions between drought and freezing in either season. Leaf sugar concentrations increased significantly with drought intensity, but these effects dissipated within a month, prior to the onset of the autumn freezing treatment. Overall, our results suggest that interactions between prior drought and subsequent freezing in P. pratensis may be most relevant in the context of autumn freezing, and despite the important role of soluble sugars in increasing both drought and freezing tolerance in this species, the retention of these compounds after drought stress does not appear to explain the occurrence of drought–frost interactions at ecologically relevant time scales.
Plant Biology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ; ;
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