Journal Article

Leaf nitrogen productivity is the major factor behind the growth reduction induced by long-term salt stress

Manuel Nieves, Manuel Nieves-Cordones, Hendrik Poorter and Maria Dolores Simón

Edited by Marilyn Ball

in Tree Physiology

Volume 31, issue 1, pages 92-101
Published in print January 2011 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/treephys/tpq106
Leaf nitrogen productivity is the major factor behind the growth reduction induced by long-term salt stress

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Plant growth response to salinity on a scale of years has not been studied in terms of growth analysis. To gain insights into this topic, 2-year-old Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis L.) and Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta H. Wendl) seedlings, each with its own distinct plant morphology, were grown for 2 years in a peat soil and irrigated with water of 2 dS m−1 (control) or 8 dS m−1 (saline). Plants were harvested on seven occasions and the time trends in relative growth rate (RGR, the rate of increase of biomass per unit of biomass already existing) and its components were analysed. In the long term, salinity produced a slight reduction in the mean RGR, values in both species. In the short term, salinity caused a reduction in RGR. However, during the second year, plants irrigated with 8 dS m−1 grew somewhat more quickly than the control plants, probably as a result of delay in the growth kinetics due to salinity. Regarding RGR components, leaf nitrogen productivity (the rate of biomass gain per unit leaf N and time) was the major factor causing the differences in RGR resulting from salinity. Washingtonia robusta showed a relatively high plasticity in plant morphology by increasing root and decreasing stem biomass allocation in the presence of salinity. However, the long-term response of W. robusta to salinity, based to a great extent, on this morphological plasticity, was less effective than that of C. humilis, which is based mainly on the contribution of leaf N to RGR values.

Keywords: biomass allocation; Chamaerops humilis; growth analysis; Richards function; Washingtonia robusta

Journal Article.  5522 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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