We evaluated several mechanisms that enable saplings of Yucca filifera (Chabaud) to endure water shortage. Saplings were exposed to water shortage and subsequent rewatering inside a greenhouse. The response variables were maximum quantum efficiency (Fv/Fm), effective quantum yield of photosystem II (ΦPSII), nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ), electron transport rate (ETR), leaf relative water content, titratable acid (ΔH+), pigment content (chlorophylls a and b, total carotenoids, chlorophyll a+b/carotenoids ratio, and chlorophyll a/ b ratio), antioxidant activity, and proline accumulation. We hypothesized that Y. filifera saplings tolerate water shortage, and that rewatering favors the sapling development. We found that Fv/Fm and ΦPSII values as well as ΔH+ and chlorophyll a/b ratio were strongly affected by water shortage, and their values reverted after rewatering. We also found higher NPQ, antioxidant activity, and proline content during the water-shortage treatment, which might represent mechanisms for preventing photodamage. The high ability of Y. filifera saplings to withstand stress caused by water shortage indicates that it could be a key species for conservation and restoration of degraded arid ecosystems.
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