Effects of soil flooding on photosynthesis and growth of Zea mays L. seedlings under different light intensities
Soil flooding is one of the major abiotic stresses that repress maize (Zea mays L.) growth and yield, and other environmental factors often influence soil flooding stress. This paper reports an experimental test of the hypothesis that light intensity can influence the responses of maize seedlings to soil flooding. In this experiment, maize seedlings were subjected to soil flooding at the two-leaf stage under control light (600 μmol m-2 s-1) or low light (150 μmol m-2 s-1) conditions. Under control light growth conditions, the average photosynthetic rate (PN), transpiration rate (E) and water use efficiency (WUE) were 70, 26 and 59%, respectively, higher in non-flooded than in flooded seedlings; and the average chlorophyll a (Chl a), chlorophyll b (Chl b) and Chl a+b were 31, 42 and 34%, respectively, higher in non-flooded than in flooded seedlings; and the average belowground biomass and total biomass were 52 and 34%, respectively, higher in non-flooded than in flooded seedlings. There was a slight decrease of seedling biomass in six days flooded seedlings under low light growth conditions. The effects of flooding on photosynthetic, seedling growth and shoot/root ratio were more pronounced under control light growth conditions than under low light growth conditions, which indicate that even for maize which is a C4 plant, relatively high light intensity still aggravated soil flooding stress, while low light growth condition mitigated soil flooding stress, and suggests that light effects should be considered when we study maize responses to soil flooding.
Keywords: Biomass accumulation, gas exchange, light limitation, maize, stress