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Physiological responses of artificial moss biocrusts to dehydration-rehydration process and heat stress on the Loess Plateau, China

Abstract

Ex-situ cultivation of biological soil crusts (biocrusts) is a promising technology to produce materials that can induce the recovery of biocrusts in the field for the purposes of preventing soil erosion and improving hydrological function in degraded ecosystems. However, the ability of artificially cultivated biocrusts to survive under adverse field conditions, including drought and heat stresses, is still relatively unknown. Mosses can bolster biocrust resistance to the stresses (e.g., drought and heat) and the resistance may be introduced prior to field cultivation. In this study, we subjected the well-developed artificial moss biocrusts (dominant species of Didymodon vinealis (Brid.) Zand.) that we cultivated in the phytotron to a dehydration-rehydration experiment and also a heat stress experiment and measured the activities of protective enzymes (including peroxidase (POD), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase (CAT)) and the contents of osmoregulatory substances (including soluble proteins and soluble sugars) and malondialdehyde (MDA, an indicator of oxidative stress) in the stem and leaf fragments of mosses. The results showed that, during the dehydration process, the activities of protective enzymes and the contents of osmoregulatory substances and MDA gradually increased with increasing duration of drought stress (over 13 days). During the rehydration process, values of these parameters decreased rapidly after 1 d of rehydration. The values then showed a gradual decrease for 5 days, approaching to the control levels. Under heat stress (45°C), the activities of protective enzymes and the content of soluble proteins increased rapidly within 2 h of heat exposure and then decreased gradually with increasing duration of heat exposure. In contrast, the contents of soluble sugars and MDA always increased gradually with increasing duration of heat exposure. This study indicates that artificial moss biocrusts possess a strong drought resistance and this resistance can be enhanced after a gradual dehydration treatment. This study also indicates that artificial moss biocrusts can only resist short-term heat stress (not long-term heat stress). These findings suggest that short-term heat stress or prolonged drought stress could be used to elevate the resistance of artificial moss biocrusts to adverse conditions prior to field reintroduction.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41541008, 41671276), the Chinese Universities Scientific Fund (2014YQ006), the West Light Foundation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2014-91) and the Natural Science Foundation of Qinghai Province (2016-ZJ-943Q). The authors are grateful to YUAN Fang, LI Ruxue, YUAN Senpeng, ZHAO Yang, BAI Xueliang and LI Huiya who offered assistance. The authors thank anonymous reviewers and editors for their valuable comments.

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Correspondence to Chongfeng Bu.

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Bu, C., Wang, C., Yang, Y. et al. Physiological responses of artificial moss biocrusts to dehydration-rehydration process and heat stress on the Loess Plateau, China. J. Arid Land 9, 419–431 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-017-0057-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-017-0057-8

Keywords

  • dehydration-rehydration
  • heat stress
  • Didymodon vinealis (Brid.) Zand.
  • resistance
  • Loess Plateau