Responses of Sphagneticola trilobata, Sphagneticola calendulacea and their hybrid to drought stress.
Sphagneticola trilobata is an invasive plant in South China. A hybrid between S. trilobata and Sphagneticola calendulacea (a native related species) has also been found in South China. The drought resistance of S. calendulacea, S. trilobata and their hybrid was studied in this paper. Under drought stress, the leaves of S. trilobata synthesized more abscisic acid (ABA) than those of the other species to reduce stomatal opening and water loss. The activities of antioxidant enzymes were the highest in S. trilobata and the lowest in S. calendulacea. The leaves of S. calendulacea suffered the most serious damage, and their maximum photochemical efficiency was the lowest. RNA-sequencing ware used to analyze the expression levels of genes in ABA, antioxidant enzyme, sugar and proline synthesis and photosynthesis pathways. Further real-time PCR detection verified the RNA-sequence results, and the results were in accordance with the physiological data. The results showed that S. trilobata was the most drought tolerant, and the drought tolerance of the hybrid did not show heterosis but was higher than S. calendulacea. Therefore, compared with S. trilobata and the hybrid, the population number and distribution of S. calendulacea may be less in arid areas.