The forage grass Paspalum dilatatum tolerates partial but not complete submergence caused by either deep water or repeated defoliation

M. E. Manzur, A. A. Grimoldi, G. G. Striker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Grazing, flooding and their combination are major disturbances that could affect plant performance in humid grasslands. We performed two experiments to study the tolerance of the forage grass Paspalum dilatatum Poir. to different submergence depths and defoliation frequencies. First, we addressed whether this species can shift from the escape strategy to 'quiescence' when completely submerged for 30 days. Second, we explored to what extent partial or complete submergence produced by defoliation compromises plant regrowth. The results showed that regardless of the depth of water at submergence, P. dilatatum always responded by attempting to expose its leaf area above water, by increasing the tiller angle and/or blade length (i.e. tiller height). Partially submerged plants showed a reduction in starch concentration (89%) but biomass was unaffected, whereas completely submerged plants did not survive. After one defoliation event, 77% of aerial biomass of partially submerged plants was removed and the concentration of carbon reserves (water-soluble carbohydrates and starch) decreased to half that of control plants. A second event of defoliation (20 days later) of plants with few reserves removed 50-52% of shoot biomass and compromised plant survival, with plants dying before the end of the experiment. In conclusion, P. dilatatum does not tolerate prolonged conditions of complete submergence caused by either deep water columns or repeated defoliation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-198
Number of pages9
JournalCrop and Pasture Science
Volume71
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

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