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The importance of water-soluble carbohydrates on regrowth and root growth of Lolium perenne L

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 20:44 authored by Donaghy, DJ, Fulkerson, WJ
This glasshouse study aimed to determine the relative importance of water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC) and current photosynthate on root and top regrowth of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). Individual plants were arranged in one of two miniswards (Experiments 1 and 2) and underwent varying defoliation frequencies designed to obtain a gradient of WSC content at the final harvest of each treatment (H 1 ), when all treatments were defoliated. In Experiment 1, the plants were defoliated either three times at the one new leaf per tiller stage of regrowth (treatment 3 x 1), once at the two-leaf and again at the one-leaf stage (treatment 2, 1), once at the one-leaf and again at the two-leaf stage (treatment 1, 2) or once only at the three-leaf stage (treatment 1 x 3), up to H 1 . Leaf and root growth and other parameters were assessed over 6 d after H 1 in sunlight, and over a 4-week period in darkness, and related to initial plant WSC content. In Experiment 2, plant defoliation treatments were: 3 x 1, 1, 2 or 1 x 3. Leaf regrowth was assessed for 36 d until the plants had three fully expanded new leaves per tiller. Leaf regrowth in both experiments was significantly related to stubble WSC (below 50 mm height). In Experiment 1, plants were almost fully reliant upon plant reserves for the first 3 d of regrowth, with reliance decreasing up to 6 d. When regrowth of plants was compared after 1 week in light or in darkness, it was estimated that one-third of leaf regrowth was due to plant WSC reserves and the remainder due to photosynthesis. However, the capacity to photosynthesize and to grow roots after H 1 was also significantly related to stubble WSC content. In Experiment 2, there was a significant difference (P < 0·01) between defoliation treatments on leaf dry matter (DM) yield at 12 d (≃1 leaf tiller -1 ) of regrowth, and this was, as in Experiment 1, significantly positively related to WSC content in the stubble. However, after 36 d of regrowth, DM yield of plants defoliated at 2 or 3 leaves tiller -1 up to H 1 were similar, and both were significantly higher (P < 0·001) than regrowth of plants defoliated at the one-leaf stage. After defoliation, the period of reliance on WSC reserves may be substantially increased in situations of shading (canopy competition or cloud cover) or if the new regrowth shoot is removed by regrazing.


Publication title

Grass and Forage Science








Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


Blackwell Publishing

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other plant production and plant primary products not elsewhere classified

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