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Growth and physiological responses of Agriophyllum squarrosum to sand burial stress

Abstract

Agriophyllum squarrosum is an annual desert plant widely distributed on mobile and semi-mobile dunes in all the sandy deserts of China. We studied the growth and physiological properties of A. squarrosum seedlings under different sand burial depths in 2010 and 2011 at Horqin Sandy Land, Inner Mongolia to understand the ability and mechanism that A. squarrosum withstands sand burial. The results showed that A. squarrosum had a strong ability to withstand sand burial. Its survival rate, plant height and biomass increased significantly at a burial depth 25% of seedling height and decreased significantly only when the burial depth exceeded the height of the seedlings; some plants still survived even if the burial depth reached 266% of a seedling height. The malondialdehyde (MDA) content and membrane permeability of the plant did not change significantly as long as the burial depth was not greater than the seedling height; lipid peroxidation increased and cell membranes were damaged if the burial depth was increased further. When subjected to sand burial stress, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and peroxidase (POD) activities and free proline content increased in the seedlings, while the catalase (CAT) activity and soluble sugar content decreased. Sand burial did not lead to water stress. Reductions in photosynthetic area and cell membrane damage caused by sand burial may be the major mechanisms increasing mortality and inhibiting growth of the seedling. But the increases in SOD and POD activities and proline content must play a certain role in reducing sand burial damage.

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Correspondence to Jin Li.

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Li, J., Qu, H., Zhao, H. et al. Growth and physiological responses of Agriophyllum squarrosum to sand burial stress. J. Arid Land 7, 94–100 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-014-0033-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-014-0033-5

Keywords

  • Agriophyllum squarrosum
  • psammophyte
  • sand burial stress
  • growth inhibition
  • physiological response