Drought Impact on Bermuda Grass Growth and Gene Activity

Greg Howard
5th April, 2024

Drought Impact on Bermuda Grass Growth and Gene Activity

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Yangzhou University found some bermudagrass genotypes resist drought better
  • Genotypes "Tianshui" and "Linxiang" showed strong drought tolerance by expressing specific genes
  • These genes help protect plant cells and maintain water balance, aiding survival in dry conditions
In the face of increasing water scarcity, the quest to cultivate drought-resistant crops has become a critical challenge for agricultural science. One area of focus is the development of robust turfgrass varieties, particularly bermudagrass, which is commonly used for lawns and sports fields. Researchers at Yangzhou University have made significant strides in identifying bermudagrass germplasm that exhibit remarkable tolerance to drought conditions[1]. This discovery could pave the way for more resilient landscaping solutions in arid regions and contribute to the conservation of water resources. Bermudagrass thrives in warm climates but its growth can be severely hampered by drought. The study's objective was to evaluate the drought tolerance of thirteen bermudagrass genotypes, with the aim of identifying those that could maintain their vitality under water stress. The research team subjected these grasses to drought conditions and observed their physiological and genetic responses. The study revealed that certain genotypes, specifically "Tianshui" and "Linxiang," were able to withstand drought stress more effectively than others. These drought-tolerant genotypes demonstrated an increased expression of specific genes associated with drought resistance. The gene cdDHN4, which encodes for a dehydrin protein, was notably overexpressed. Dehydrins are known to protect plant cells during dehydration. Additionally, genes responsible for producing antioxidant enzymes, such as Cu/ZnSOD and APX, were also upregulated, leading to enhanced scavenging of harmful reactive oxygen species that accumulate during drought stress. The production of antioxidants is crucial for plants to mitigate oxidative damage to their cells, which can occur when they're exposed to various stresses, including drought[2]. These enzymes help maintain the integrity of cell membranes, which is vital for the plant's survival under adverse conditions. Furthermore, the presence of proline—an organic compound that functions as an osmolyte—was observed to contribute to the maintenance of water balance within the cells, thus aiding in the preservation of photosynthetic efficiency and overall plant growth. The study's findings are in line with previous research that highlights the role of phytohormones and molecular signaling in plant responses to drought[2]. It also complements studies that emphasize the importance of silicon in supporting plant resilience to combined stresses of salinity and drought[3]. Silicon has been shown to bolster the antioxidant defense system and delay leaf senescence under stress conditions, which mirrors the antioxidant activity observed in the drought-tolerant bermudagrass genotypes. In addition to the genetic response, the researchers noted morphological changes in the bermudagrass, such as increased leaf length, stolon and internode length, plant height, and root depth. These changes are indicative of the plant's adaptation to drought conditions, allowing for more efficient water usage and nutrient uptake. The research at Yangzhou University complements the broader body of work on plant stress tolerance, including studies on proteomic changes in bermudagrass varieties with varying drought resistance[4] and the role of calcium in cold stress response[5]. The current study expands on these themes by providing concrete examples of genetic markers and physiological traits that can be used to select and breed drought-resistant bermudagrass. In conclusion, the identification of drought-tolerant bermudagrass genotypes with specific genetic and physiological traits marks a significant advancement in the development of crops suited for water-limited environments. The study from Yangzhou University not only contributes to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying drought resistance but also offers practical solutions for breeding and cultivating bermudagrass varieties that can thrive despite water scarcity. This research could have a meaningful impact on sustainable landscaping practices and the global effort to adapt agricultural practices to changing environmental conditions.

GeneticsEcologyPlant Science


Main Study

1) Assessment of the changes in growth, photosynthetic traits and gene expression in Cynodon dactylon against drought stress

Published 2nd April, 2024


Related Studies

2) The physiology of plant responses to drought.


3) Silicon-induced postponement of leaf senescence is accompanied by modulation of antioxidative defense and ion homeostasis in mustard (Brassica juncea) seedlings exposed to salinity and drought stress.


4) Comparative proteomic responses of two bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon (L). Pers.) varieties contrasting in drought stress resistance.


5) Comparative proteomic and metabolomic analyses reveal mechanisms of improved cold stress tolerance in bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.) by exogenous calcium.


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