Citrus rootstock responses to water stress
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Tolerance to drought-stress (DS) of the citrus rootstock Forner-Alcaide no. 5 (FA-5) was tested and compared with that of its parents, Cleopatra mandarin (CM) and Poncirus trifoliata (PT). Nine-month-old seedlings of CM, PT and FA-5 and 15-month-old grafted trees of 'Valencia' orange scions on these three rootstocks were cultivated in sand under glasshouse conditions and irrigated with a nutrient solution. Plants were drought-stressed by withholding irrigation until leaves were fully wilted. Survival time of both seedlings and grafted trees under DS was linked to the water extraction rate from the soil, which depended mainly on leaf biomass and on transpiration rate. Seedling responses to DS affecting leaf water relationships and gas exchange parameters varied among genotypes. FA-5 seedlings survived longer than the other seedlings, maintaining the highest levels of water potential, stomatal conductance, transpiration rate and net CO(2) assimilation towards the end of the experiment, when water stress was most severe. Thus, FA-5 was more resistant to DS than its parents (CM and PT). Moreover, rootstock affected the performance of grafted trees under water stress conditions. The higher drought tolerance induced by FA-5 rootstock could be related to the greater osmotic adjustment (OA), which was reflected by smaller reductions in leaf relative water content (RWC) and in higher turgor potentials and leaf gas exchange than the other rootstocks. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.