Tufted hairgrass responses to heat and drought stress

Eric Watkins, Bingru Huang, William A. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Tufted hairgrass [Deschampsia cespitosa (L.) Beauv.] is receiving increasing attention as a low-maintenance turfgrass for use in areas with reduced fertility or reduced sunlight. The objectives of this study were to examine physiological responses of tufted hairgrass to heat and drought stress and to distinguish whether better summer performance was related to better heat or drought tolerance. Four germplasm lines were chosen based on summer performance in field plots (two lines resistant to summer stress and two lines susceptible to summer stress) and were grown in growth chambers [14-hour photoperiod, 20/15°C (day/night)]. Plants were exposed to either drought stress or heat stress (35/30°C, day/night) for up to 49 days. Control plants maintained under normal conditions (20/15°C, day/night, well watered) were included for both treatments. During the course of the study, single-leaf photosynthetic rate, photochemical efficiency, and relative water content were measured, and turf quality was visually rated. All parameters for all tufted hairgrass lines decreased under drought stress and heat stress, and the decline was more severe for summer stress-susceptible lines than for resistant lines. Lines that were previously considered resistant to summer stress exhibited superior photochemical efficiency under heat stress compared with the susceptible lines. When subjected to drought stress, the lines exhibited little or no differences in the measured parameters. These results suggest that observed variation in field summer performance among various tufted hairgrass germplasm lines may be mainly the result of their differences in heat tolerance. These results suggest that selecting for heat-tolerant germplasm could be important for further improvement in turf performance of tufted hairgrass during the summer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-293
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Deschampsia cespitosa
  • Low-maintenance
  • Turfgrass breeding


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