Morphological, physiological and biochemical responses of poplar plants to drought stress
MORPHOLOGICAL, PHYSIOLOGICAL AND BIOCHEMICAL RESPONSES OF POPLAR PLANTS TO DROUGHT STRESS
Drought stress is perhaps the most commonly encountered abiotic stress experienced by plants in the natural environment, and it is one of the most important factors limiting plant productivity. In this era of global warming, it is necessary to understand the mechanisms that allow a specific plant species to tolerate these environmental constraints and how such mechanisms interact. Poplar clone Kranti was selected to assess the morphological, physiological and biochemical responses under drought at different levels of water stress, as it is a common clone used to be grown in Uttarakhand for making paper and plywood. The cuttings of Populus deltoides L. (clone Kranti) were exposed to four different watering regimes (100, 75, 50 and 25% of the field capacity) and changes in physiological and biochemical parameters related with drought tolerance were recorded. Alterations in physiological (i.e. decrease in relative water content) and biochemical parameters (i.e. increase in proline and soluble sugar content and build-up of malondialdehyde by-products) occurred in all the three levels of water stress, although drought represented the major determinant. Drought treatments (75%, 50% and 25% FC) decreased plant height, radial stem diameter, harvest index, total biomass content and RWC in all the three watering regimes compared to control (100% FC). Biochemical parameters like proline, soluble sugar and MDA content increased with severity and duration of stress, which helped plants to survive under severe stress. It was analysed that for better wood yield poplar seedlings should avail either optimum amount of water (amount nearly equal to field capacity of soil) or maximum withdrawal up to 75% of field capacity up to seedling establishment period (60 days). Furthermore, this study manifested that acclimation to drought stress are related with the rapidity, severity and duration of the drought event of the poplar species.