Maize leaf functional responses to drought episode and rewatering
Effects of crop growth and physiological activity to drought and irrigation regimes have been extensively studied; however, the responses of plant growth, morphological and photosynthetic behaviors to drought episodes and thereafter rewatering receive a less attention. This field experiment was carried out directly in situ at an agricultural ecosystem research station during 2015-2016, in a northeastern China, on the renowned northeastern maize production belt, where is being threatened by
... e drought. A field automatic rain-shelter was used, and five irrigation regimes including control, four drought episodes, and rewatering treatments were established. The chlorophyll contents (SPAD values), light-saturated photosynthetic rate (Asat), and photosystem II actual quantum yield (ΦPSII), maximum quantum yield (Fv′/Fm′) decreased at lower leaf positions and with plant development. Episodic drought effects on plant growth, leaf morphological traits and photosynthetic processes at both vegetative and reproductive stages were severely remarked, particularly at late development stage and with longer drought duration. The recovery of leaf functional traits of the plants experienced historical-drought following re-irrigating was not fully restored to the level of the plants subjected to ample and normal water status; and the strength of recovery was proportional to the persistence of pre-drought episodes. The relationship of Asat with SPAD depends on water status and plant development. A principal component analysis can well denote the change patterns in responses to water status treatments with plant development. The results may give an insight into how to understand the maize traits' responses to drought episode and rewatering, and this also might assist the drought-stricken crops to cope with future climatic change.