Photosynthetic compensation of non-leaf organ stems of the invasive species Sphagneticola trilobata (L.) pruski at low temperature.
Biological invasion is a hot topic in ecological research. Most studies on the physiological mechanisms of plants focus on leaves, but few studies focus on stems. To study the tolerance of invasive plant (Sphagneticola trilobata L.) to low temperature, relevant physiological indicators (including anthocyanin and chlorophyll) in different organs (leaves and stems) were analyzed, using a native species (Sphagneticola calendulacea L.) as the control. The results showed that, upon exposure to low temperature for 15 days, the stems of two Sphagneticola species were markedly reddened, their anthocyanin content increased, chlorophyll and chlorophyll fluorescence parameters decreased, and the accumulation of reactive oxygen species in the stem increased. The percentage increases of antioxidants and total antioxidant capacities in stems were significantly higher in S. trilobata than in S. calendulacea. This showed that S. trilobata had higher cold tolerance in stems while leaves were opposite. To further verify the higher cold tolerance of the stem of S. trilobata, a defoliation experiment was designed. We found that the defoliated stem of S. trilobata reduced anthocyanin accumulation and increased chlorophyll content, while alleviating membrane lipid damage and electrical conductivity, and the defoliated stem still showed an increase in stem diameter and biomass under low temperature. The discovery of the physiological and adaptive mechanisms of the stem of S. trilobata to low temperature will provide a theoretical basis for explaining how S. trilobata maintains its annual growth in South China. This is of great significance for predicting the future spread of cloned and propagated invasive plants.