Leaf gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence and growth responses of Melaleuca alternifolia seedlings to flooding and subsequent recovery
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Periodic flooding of trees in tropical floodplains and reservoirs where water levels fluctuate is a common phenomenon. The effects of flooding and subsequent recovery on gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence and growth responses of Melaleuca alternifolia seedlings, a tall shrub species used in floodplain and reservoir forest restoration in southern China, were studied during a grow season (from March to December in 2007). M. alternifolia seedlings were flooded for 180 days, drained and left to recover for another 60 days. Survival rates of the seedlings were 100% during the 180-day flooding period. Chlorophyll (Chl) content, net photosynthetic rate (PN), stomatal conductance (gs), and transpiration rate (E) of the flooded seedlings were all significantly lower than those of the control. Significant reductions of photochemical quenching coefficient (qp) and increases of nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ) in the flooded seedlings were observed. However, there were no significant differences in the maximal quantum yield of PSII photochemistry (Fv/Fm) between treatments. All seedlings survived during the two-month recovery period after the flooded treatment was drained, and the biomass and height of the recovered seedlings approached those of the control at the end of the experiment. During the first-month recovery period, Chl content, PN, gs and E in the recovered seedlings were all obviously low, then increased gradually and rose to the levels similar to the control by the end of the experiment. Quenching analysis revealed significant reductions of qp and increments of NPQ in the recovered seedlings at the beginning of draining, and a nearly complete recovery for both parameters by the end of the experiment. However, Fv/Fm of the recovered seedlings did not differ significantly from the control during the recovery period. Our study demonstrated that M. alternifolia seedlings can survive and grow through 180 days of flooding with a subsequent 60-day recovery period in drained conditions, indicating that seedlings of this species would be suitable for afforestation in areas exposed to intermittent flooding.
Additional key wordschlorophyll fluorescence flooding leaf gas exchange Melaleuca alternifolia recovery
maximal quantum yield of PSII photochemistry
net photosynthetic rate
photochemical quenching coefficient
photosynthetic photon flux density
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