Acta Physiologiae Plantarum

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 149–158 | Cite as

The effect of drought stress on chlorophyll fluorescence in Lolium-Festuca hybrids

  • Janusz Ko cielniak
  • Władysław Filek
  • Jolanta Biesaga-Ko cielniak


The effects of drought on photochemical efficiency of PSII in leaves of 22 hybrids of Festuca pratensis × Lolium multiflorum and Festuca pratensis × Lolium perenne and of Festuca pratensis cv. Skra were investigated. A significant decrease of electron transport efficiency (about 25%) in PSII (ΦPSII) was not found before 9 days of seedling growth in hydroponics with water potential (Ψw) equal to −0.8 MPa (simulated “soil drought”). The decrease of ΦPSII was similarly related to that of excitation energy capture by open PSII reaction centre (Fv’/Fm’) and also to the decrease of the proportion of oxidized to reduced QA (photochemical fluorescence quenching, qp). According to the drought prolongation, variation of all parameters of fluorescence between genotypes significantly increased. The seedlings of some genotypes were able to recover electron transport efficiency in PSII after increasing water potential in nutrient solution (removing the “soil drought”).

When plants grew in containers with soil and 4 genotypes with the highest sensitivity of electron transport to drought (S) as well as 4 genotypes with the highest tolerance (T) were compared 17 days after watering ceased, Ψw in leaves considerably decreased, but the differences between S and T genotypes were often not significant in this respect. The differences between S and T genotypes, as values of Fv/Fm were concerned, also appeared small (about 5%), similarly as that of Fv’/Fm’ (5%), qp (12%) and ΦPSII (about 15%).

Drought stress increased non-photochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence (NPQ) 15 to 47% and this could protect the PSII reaction centres from damages because of energy excess. The increase of NPQ was not closely connected with drought resistance of plants because it was similar in some genotypes tolerant to dehydration as well as in sensitive ones.

The results of the experiments suggest that resources of genetic variability in Festulolium may be sufficient for revealing differences between genotypes on the basis of measurement of chlorophyll a fluorescence, as far as their tolerance to soil drought is concerned. As the tolerance of PSII against drought is high, the determinations of fluorescence should be performed rather under severe stress. Such methods seem to be useful for selection of genotypes with high drought tolerance as well as with the ability to at least partial repairing of PSII after drought.

Key words

breeding drought tolerance chlorophyll a fluorescence Festuca pratensis Lolium multiflorum Lolium perenne Festulolium 

List of abbreviations

S, T

sensitive and tolerant Festulolium hybrids, respectively


quantum efficiency of PSII electron transport


photochemical fluorescence quenching


efficiency of excitation energy capture by open PSII reaction centres


efficiency of excitation capture by open PSII in dark-adapted leaves


non-photochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence


photosystem II


the primary stable electron acceptor of PSII


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Copyright information

© Department of Plant Physiology 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janusz Ko cielniak
    • 1
  • Władysław Filek
    • 1
  • Jolanta Biesaga-Ko cielniak
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Plant PhysiologyAgricultural UniversityKrakowPoland
  2. 2.Institute of Plant PhysiologyPolish Academy of SciencesKrakowPoland

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