Effects of drought stress on the photosynthetic physiological parameters of Populus × euramericana “Neva”

  • Guoting Liang
  • Jianwen Bu
  • Shuyong Zhang
  • Guo Jing
  • Guangcan Zhang
  • Xia Liu
Original Paper


Populus × euramericana “Neva” is the main poplar species in China, where drought stress is becoming extremely urgent. We carried out this research to study the effects of drought stress on the photosynthesis of Populus × euramericanaNeva”. Drought stress was induced by 58–62% (light), 48–52% (moderate), and 38–42% (severe) relative soil moisture content (RSMC). The effects of drought stress on photosynthetic rate, chlorophyll fluorescence parameters, and other related physiological parameters were investigated during treatment. Net photosynthetic rate (PN), and stomatal conductance decreased significantly and intercellular CO2 concentration initially increased and then declined, whereas the stomatal limitation factors showed opposite trends in the light under moderate drought stress. Photosystem II (PSII) maximum photochemical efficiency, actual photochemical efficiency, and photochemical quenching decreased gradually under drought stress, whereas nonphotochemical quenching initially increased and then declined. Superoxide dismutase, peroxidase, and catalase activities initially increased and then decreased as RSMC was reduced, whereas malondialdehyde (MDA) content and relative electric conductivity (REC) increased gradually. These results suggest that stomatal factors accounted for the decline in PN under light and moderate drought stress, whereas leaf PN decreased mainly due to non-stomatal factors under severe drought stress. PSII was damaged; thus, photosynthetic electron transfer was restricted, indicating that heat dissipation is important for the light protection mechanism of plants. Antioxidant enzymes increased at the beginning of treatment, and the increased MDA and REC led to cell membrane damage. These results suggest that poplar seedlings stabilized their photosynthetic apparatus by reducing the light trapping ability under light and moderate drought stress conditions. This helped dissipate heat and enhance antioxidant enzyme activity. Stomatal factors accounted for the decline in PN, whereas damage to PSII and antioxidant enzymes under severe drought stress suggested that the decline in PN was caused by non-stomatal restrictive factors.


Poplar seedlings Drought stress Gas exchange Chlorophyll fluorescence Antioxidant enzymes 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Guoting Liang and Jianwen Bu contributed equally to this study.


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Copyright information

© Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Ecological Restoration, Forestry College of Shandong Agricultural UniversityTaishan Forest Eco-station of State Forestry AdministrationTai’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Food Science and EngineeringShandong Agriculture and Engineering UniversityJinanPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Forestry College of Nanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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