, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 355-364

Water relations, gas exchange, photochemical efficiency, and peroxidative stress of four plant species in the Heihe drainage basin of northern China

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Haloxylon ammodendron, Calligonum mongolicum, Elaeagnus angustifolia, and Populus hosiensis had different adaptations to limited water availability, high temperature, and high irradiance. C. mongolicum used water more efficiently than did the other species. Because of low transpiration rate (E) and low water potential, H. ammodendron had low water loss suitable for desert conditions. Water use efficiency (WUE) was high in E. angustifolia, but high E and larger leaf area made this species more suitable for mesic habitats; consequently, this species is important in tree shelterbelts. P. hosiensis had low WUE, E, and photosynthesis rates, and therefore, does not prosper in arid areas without irrigation. High irradiances caused photoinhibition of the four plants. The decrease of photochemical efficiency was a possible non-stomata factor for the midday depression of C. mongolicum. However, the species exhibited different protective mechanisms against high irradiance under drought stress. H. ammodendron and C. mongolicum possessed a more effective antioxidant defence system than E. angustifolia. These three species showed different means of coping with oxidative stress. Hence an enzymatic balance is maintained in these plants under adverse stress conditions, and the concerted action of both enzymatic and non-enzymatic reactive oxygen species scavenging mechanisms is vital to survive adverse conditions.