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Title: Role of Osmotic Adjustment in Plant Productivity

Successful implementation of short rotation woody crops requires that the selected species and clones be productive, drought tolerant, and pest resistant. Since water is one of the major limiting factors in poplar (Populus sp.) growth, there is little debate for the need of drought tolerant clones, except on the wettest of sites (e.g., lower Columbia River delta). Whether drought tolerance is compatible with productivity remains a debatable issue. Among the many mechanisms of drought tolerance, dehydration postponement involves the maintenance of high leaf water potential due to, for example, an adequate root system. This trait is compatible with productivity, but requires available soil moisture. When the plant leaf water potential and soil water content decline, the plant must be able to survive drought through dehydration tolerance mechanisms, such as low osmotic potential or osmotic adjustment. Osmotic adjustment and low osmotic potential are considered compatible with growth and yield because they aid in the maintenance of leaf turgor. However, it has been shown that turgor alone does not regulate cell expansion or stomatal conductance and, therefore, the role of osmotic adjustment is debated. Despite this finding, osmotic adjustment has been correlated with grain yield in agronomic crop species, and gene markersmore » responsible for osmotic adjustment are being investigated to improve drought tolerance in productive progenies. Although osmotic adjustment and low osmotic potentials have been investigated in several forest tree species, few studies have investigated the relationship between osmotic adjustment and growth. Most of these studies have been limited to greenhouse or container-grown plants. Osmotic adjustment and rapid growth have been specifically associated in Populus and black spruce (Picea mariuna (Mill.) B.S.P.) progenies. We tested whether these relationships held under field conditions using several poplar clones. In a study of two hybrid poplar clones (P. trichocurpa Torr. & Gray x P: deltoides Bartr., TD and P. deltoides x P. nigra L., DN), we determined the TD clone, which was more productive during the first three years, had slightly lower osmotic potential than the DN clone, and also indicated a small osmotic adjustment compared with the DN hybrid. However, the productivity differences were negligible by the fifth growing season. In a separate study with several P. deltoides clones, we did not observe a consistent relationship between growth and osmotic adjustment. Some clones that had low osmotic potential and osmotic adjustment were as productive as another clone that had high osmotic potential. The least productive clone also had low osmotic potential and osmotic adjustment. The absence of a correlation may have been partly due to the fact that all clones were capable of osmotic adjustment and had low osmotic potential. In a study involving an inbred three-generation TD F{sub 2} pedigree (family 331), we did not observe a correlation between relative growth rate and osmotic potential or osmotic adjustment. However, when clones that exhibited osmotic adjustment were analyzed, there was a negative correlation between growth and osmotic potential, indicating clones with lower osmotic potential were more productive. This was observed only in clones that were exposed to drought. Although the absolute osmotic potential varied by growing environment, the relative ranking among progenies remains generally the same, suggesting that osmotic potential is genetically controlled. We have identified a quantitative trait locus for osmotic potential in another three-generation TD F{sub 2} pedigree (family 822). Unlike the many studies in agricultural crops, most of the forest tree studies were not based on plants exposed to severe stress to determine the role of osmotic adjustment. Future studies should consider using clones that are known to be productive but have contrasting osmotic adjustment capability as well as clones with contrasting growth and osmotic adjustment.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
TRN: AH200118%%108
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: PBD: 11 Jan 2001
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab., TN (US)
Sponsoring Org:
US Department of Energy (US)
Country of Publication:
United States