doi: 10.15389/agrobiology.2019.3.528eng

UDC: 635.63:581.4:[58.032+58.036

The work was performed using the equipment of the Central Scientific Center of the Karelian Scientific Center RAS.
Supported financially from the federal budget for the KarRC RAS State assignment (0218-2019-0074)



T.G. Shibaeva, A.F. Titov

Institute of Biology — Subunit of Karelian Research Center RAS, 11, ul. Pushkinskaya, Petrozavodsk, 185910 Russia, e-mail, (✉ corresponding author)

Shibaeva T.G.
Titov A.F.

Received July 6, 2018


Daily short-term temperature drop (DROP) and “periodic drought” (non-lethal water deficit) are used for plant height control as techniques inhibiting plant growth as an alternative to the use of retardants (chemical growth control). However, it is not known which of these two techniques is more effective and whether their combined effect can be stronger. In this paper taking cucumber as an example we have shown for the first time that a temperature drop technique is more effective than “periodic drought”. Temperature drops combined with “periodic drought” retard plant growth and enhance plant tolerance, but depending on the relative air humidity may decrease values of some physiological and morphological parameters. The aim of this work was: (a) a comparative assessment of the effectiveness of DROP treatments and “periodic drought”, and (b) the study of the combined effects of these two techniques on plant growth and tolerance to chilling temperature and water stress. Cucumber plants (Cucumis sativus L.) were exposed daily to a temperature of 10 °С for 2 hours at the end of the night (DROP treatment) for 6 days. The plants were watered daily or watered after the drying of the substrate (once every 2-3 days) creating “periodic drought” (drought treatment). Control plants were watered daily and not exposed to low-temperature treatments. All experiments were carried out at a low (30 %) or high (80 %) relative air humidity (RH). After the termination of the DROP treatments, plants from each treatment (control, DROP, drought, DROP + drought) were subjected to a cold test in the darkness for 1 day at a temperature of 4 °С. The plant height, length of leaf petioles, the area and number of leaves and plant dry mass were determined. The compactness of the plants was determined as the plant dry weight or leaf area per unit stem length (in mg/cm or cm2/cm). Plant tolerance to low temperature and water stress was estimated by relative electrolyte leakage from leaf tissues and the intensity of lipid peroxidation, as assessed by the content of malonic dialdehyde. Differences between the treatments means were tested with one-way ANOVA followed the least significance difference (LSD) test with p < 0.05 level of significance. The obtained results indicate that DROP-treated plants had more dry mass and leaf area per unit length of the stem compared to those treated by “periodic drought”. However, DROP treatments were effective in increasing plant compactness only under high (80 %) RH, while low (30 %) RH leveled out the effects of a temperature drop. “Periodic drought” can produce small, but not truly compact plants due to a more significant decrease in the leaf area and plant biomass compared to plant size. Thus, a temperature drop is a more effective technique compared to “periodic drought” that can be used to control plant growth and obtain compact plants. The combination of DROP treatments with “periodic drought” also increases plant compactness and besides enhances plant tolerance to water stress induced by low temperature. However, for a number of parameters (number of leaves, compactness of plants at low RH), the combination of DROP treatments and “drought” led to a worse result than the application of only the first of these two agro-practices.

Keywords: chilling temperature, water stress, plant growth, tolerance, release of electrolytes, lipid peroxidation.



  1. Rademacher W. Plant growth regulators: Backgrounds and uses in plant production. J. Plant Growth Regul., 2015, 34: 845-872 CrossRef
  2. Bergstrand K.-J.I. Methods for growth regulation of greenhouse produced ornamental pot- and bedding plants — a current review. Folia Hort., 2017, 29(1): 63-74 CrossRef
  3. Heins R.D., Erwin J.E. The history of DIF and the use of a morning temperature dip to control plant height. Minnesota Commercial Flower Growers Bulletin, 1991, 40: 1-4.
  4. Runcle E. Non-chemical height control techniques. Greenhouse Product News, 2014, 8: 58.
  5. Moe R. Control of plant morphogenesis and flowering by temperature alterations. Flowering Newsletter, 1993, 15: 30-34.
  6. Bachman G.R., McMahon M.J. Day and night temperature differential (DIF) or the absence of far-red light alters cell elongation in ‘Celebrity White’ petunia. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 2006, 131: 309-312 CrossRef
  7. Runcle E. Controlling height with temperature drops. Greenhouse Product News, 2009, 4: 50.
  8. Poorter H., Bühler J., van Dusschoten D., Climent J., Postma J.A. Pot size matters: a meta-analysis of the effects of rooting volume on plant growth. Functional Plant Biology, 2012, 39: 839-850 CrossRef
  9. Currey C.J., Lopez R.G. Non-chemical height control. Greenhouse Grower, 2010, 11: 24-30.
  10. Dean J. Using temperature to control growth. Greenhouse Management, 2011, 6: 1.
  11. Myster J., Moe R. Effect of diurnal temperature alternations on plant morphology in some greenhouse crops: a mini review. Scientia Horticulturae, 1995, 62(4): 205-215 CrossRef
  12. Moe R., Heins R.D. Thermo- and photomorphogenesis in plants. In: Advances in floriculture research. Report no 6/2000. E. Strømme (ed.). Agricultural University of Norway, Spekter, Oslo, 2000: 52-64.
  13. Hendriks L., Ueber E. Alternative methods of regulating the elongation growth of ornamental plants: a current assessment. Acta Horticulturae, 1995, 378: 159-167 CrossRef
  14. Latimer J.G., Severson R.F. Effects of mechanical and moisture-stress conditioning on growth and cuticle composition of broccoli transplants. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 1997, 122: 788-791 CrossRef
  15. Liptay A., Sikkema P., Fonteno W. Transplant growth control through water deficit stress — a review. HortTechnology, 1998, 8(4): 540-543 CrossRef
  16. Carvalho S.M.P., van Noort F., Postma R., Heuvelink E. Possibilities for producing compact floricultural crops. Report 173. Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture, Wageningen, 2008. Available No date.
  17. Latimer J.G., Oetting R. Greenhouse conditioning affects landscape performance of bedding plants. Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 1998, 16: 138-142.
  18. Brown R.D., Eakes J., Behe B.K., Gilliam C.H. Moisture stress: An alternative method of height control to B-nine (daminozide). Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 1992, 10: 232-235.
  19. van Iersel M.W., Nemali K.S. Drought stress can produce small but not compact marigolds. HortScience, 2004, 39(6): 1298-1301 CrossRef
  20. Heath R.L., Packer L. Photoperoxidation in isolated chloroplasts. I. Kinetics and stoichiometry of fatty acid peroxidation. Arch. Biochem. Biophys., 1968, 125(1): 189-198 CrossRef
  21. Chen J.J., Sun Y.W., Sheen T.F. Use of cold water for irrigation reduces stem elongation of plug-grown tomato and cabbage seedlings. HortScience, 1999, 34(5): 852-854 CrossRef
  22. Mortensen L.M. Effects of air humidity on growth, flowering, keeping quality and water relations of four short-day greenhouse species. HortScience, 2000, 86: 299-310 CrossRef
  23. Eveleens B.A., Heuvelink E., Van Noort F.R. Invoed van EC en RV op de groei en kwaliteitvan Kalanchoe.Wageningen UR Glastuinbouw, Bleiswijk, 2007.
  24. Armitage A.M., Kowalski T. Effect of irrigation frequency during greenhouse production on the postproduction quality of Petunia hybrida Vilm. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 1983, 108: 118-121.
  25. Mortensen L.M. Effect of relative humidity on growth and flowering of some greenhouse plants. Scientia Horticulturae, 1986, 29(4): 301-307 CrossRef
  26. Gislerød H.R., Nelson P.V. Effect of relative air humidity and irradiance on growth of Dendranthema grandiflorum (Ramat.) Kitamura. Gartenbauwissenschaft, 1997, 62: 214-218.
  27. Hanssen S.W., Petersen K.K. Reduced nutrient and water availability to hibiscus rosa-sinensis Cairo Red as a method to regulate growth and improve post-production quality. European Journal of Horticultural Science, 2004, 69: 159-166.
  28. Runcle E. Height control for vegetable transplants. Greenhouse Product News, 2010, 2: 50.
  29. Janowiak F. Effect of water saturated atmosphere on chilling injuries of maize seedlings (Zea mays L.). Acta Physiologiae Plantarum, 1989, 11(2): 89-96.
  30. Starck Z., Choluj D., Gawronska H. The effect of drought hardening and chilling on ABA content in xylem sap and ABA – delivery rate from root of tomato plant. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum, 2004, 20(1): 41-48 CrossRef






Full article PDF (Rus)

Full article PDF (Eng)