New Forests

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 53–65 | Cite as

Growth, biomass partitioning, and water-use efficiency of a leguminous shrub (Bauhinia faberi var. microphylla) in response to various water availabilities

Article

Abstract

Responses of the endemic leguminous shrub Bauhinia faberi var. microphylla, to various soil water supply regimes were studied in order to assess water stress tolerance of seedlings. Two-month-old seedlings were grown under water supply regimes of 100, 80, 60, 40, and 20% water field capacity (FC), respectively, in a temperature and light-controlled greenhouse. Plant height and leaf number were measured monthly over a 4-month period, while water use (WU), water-use efficiency (WUE), leaf relative water content (RWC), biomass production and its partitioning were recorded at the end of the experiment. Seedlings exhibited the greatest biomass production, height, basal diameter, branch number, leaf number, and leaf area when soil content was at 100% FC, and slightly declined at 80% FC. These parameters declined significantly under 60% FC water supply, and severely reduced under 40 and 20% FC. RWC, WU and WUE decreased, while the ratio of root mass to stem mass (R:S) increased in response to decreasing water supply. Water stress caused leaf shedding, but not plant death. The results demonstrated that B. faberi var. microphylla seedlings could tolerate drought by reducing branching and leaf area while maintaining a high R:S ratio. However, low dry mass and WUE at 40 and 20% FC suggested that the seedlings did not produce significant biomass under prolonged severe water deficit. Therefore, before introducing B. faberi var. microphylla in vegetation restoration efforts, water supply above 40% FC is recommended for seedlings to maintain growth.

Keywords

Drought stress Water-use strategy Legume Shrub Arid region 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was funded by Chinese Academy of Sciences Action-Plan for West Development (KZCX2-XB2-02) and the Western Light Talent Training Plan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. We extend our thanks to Maoxian Station for Ecosystem Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for providing facilities and technical assistance, and to Prof. Kenneth A. Albrecht for revision of the English text.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chengdu Institute of BiologyChinese Academy SciencesChengduP.R. China
  2. 2.Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingP.R. China

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