Avocado (P. americana Mill.) trees are classified into three botanical races, Mexican (M), Guatemalan (G), and West Indian (WI), each distinguished by their geographical centers of origin. While avocados are considered highly sensitive to flooding stress, comparative responses of the different races to short-term flooding are not known. This study assessed the differences in physiological and biochemical responses among clonal, non-grafted avocado cultivars of each race to short-term (2–3 days) flooding. In two separate experiments, each with different cultivars of each race, container-grown trees were divided into two treatments: 1) flooded and 2) non-flooded. Net CO2 assimilation (A), stomatal conductance (gs), and transpiration (Tr) were measured periodically over time beginning the day before treatments were imposed, through the flooding period, and during a recovery period (after unflooding). At the end of the experiments, concentrations of sugars in leaves, stems, and roots, and reactive oxygen species (ROS), antioxidants, and osmolytes in leaves and roots were determined. Guatemalan trees were more sensitive to short-term flooding than M or WI trees based on decreased A, gs, and Tr and survival of flooded trees. Guatemalan trees generally had less partitioning of sugars, particularly mannoheptulose, to the roots of flooded compared to non-flooded trees. Principal component analysis showed distinct clustering of flooded trees by race based on ROS and antioxidant profiles. Thus, differential partitioning of sugars and ROS and antioxidant responses to flooding among races may explain the greater flooding sensitivity of G trees compared to M and WI trees.
- Leaf gas exchange