Hamouda, I., Badri, M., Mejri, M., Ferchichi, S., Cruz, C., Siddique, K.H.M., Hessini, K. (2016) Salt tolerance of Beta macrocarpa is associated with efficient osmotic adjustment and increased apoplastic water content.Plant Biology, 18, 369–375. DOI:10.1111/plb.12419 (IF2016 2,156; Q2 Plant Sciences)
The chenopod Beta macrocarpa Guss (wild Swiss chard) is known for its salt tolerance, but the mechanisms involved are still debated. In order to elucidate the processes involved, we grew wild Swiss chard exposed to three salinity levels (0, 100 and 200 mM NaCl) for 45 days, and determined several physiological parameters at the end of this time. All plants survived despite reductions in growth, photosynthesis and stomatal conductance in plants exposed to salinity (100 and 200 mM NaCl). As expected, the negative effects of salinity were more pronounced at 200 mM than at 100 mM NaCl: (i) leaf apoplastic water content was maintained or increased despite a significant reduction in leaf water potential, revealing the halophytic character of B. macrocarpa; (ii) osmotic adjustment occurred, which presumably enhanced the driving force for water extraction from soil, and avoided toxic build up of Na+ and Cl– in the mesophyll apoplast of leaves. Osmotic adjustment mainly occurred through accumulation of inorganic ions and to a lesser extent soluble sugars; proline was not implicated in osmotic adjustment. Overall, two important mechanisms of salt tolerance in B. macrocarpa were identified: osmotic and apoplastic water adjustment.