Water relations and associated morphology of conditioned Douglas-fir and jack pine seedlings subjected to periods of drought stress Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/dv13zz28z

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  • Significant post planting mortality of young conifer seedlings often occurs on drought prone sites because seedlings fail to either establish, or maintain favourable water relations. Survival is contingent upon growth which occurs when turgor pressure is above a threshold level. Since growth after planting is influenced by nursery cultural practices, it was hypothesized that survival may be enhanced by the effect of irrigation and nutrient conditioning on seedling water relations. Principal water relation parameters estimated by traditional and pressure-volume methods were evaluated in conditioned Douglas-fir and jack pine container seedlings during imposed drought stress in a growth room and outside in raised cold frames containing two soil types. Seedling morphology and ion concentrations in the roots were also determined. Initially, declines in plant water potential (psi) were paralleled by decreases in osmotic potential (psi pi), but as stress increased, differential declines resulted in turgor pressure (psi rho) being variously maintained depending upon irrigation and level of applied KCl. Estimates of tissue elasticity during drought stress suggested that turgor maintenance was the result of solute concentration through tissue dehydration, not osmotic adjustment. During a second drought stress, declines in (psi) and (psi pi) lead to marked increases in in some treatments. In jack pine, this continued to be the result of dehydration and concentration of solutes, but in Douglas-fir, osmotic adjustment was a factor in turgor maintenance. Variable water relations in either species could not he attributed to the accumulation of any particular ion. Only root area exhibited an increase during drought stress. Mortality during recovery was significantly higher in daily than weekly irrigated seedlings and was not influenced by the level of applied KCl. Post drought evaluation of growth potential of surviving seedlings revealed that neither conditioning treatment nor successive drought stress precluded growth. Under field conditions the progressions of water relation parameters were similar to those recorded in growth room conditions, but the rapidity of the responses were affected by soil type. Results suggested the occurrence of osmotic adjustment in Douglas-fir; restrained decline in turgor pressure in jack pine was clearly the result of concentration of salutes through dehydration. Mortality was confined entirely to Douglas-fir in the clay loam soil, but in the sandy soil both species, regardless of conditioning treatment, experienced mortality at low soil water availability.
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