Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2016, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (1): 69-79.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2015.0240

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Eco-physiological responses of linseed (Linum usitatissimum) to salt and alkali stresses

GUO Rui1,2,*, LI Feng1, ZHOU Ji3, LI Hao-Ru1,2, XIA Xu1,2, LIU Qi1,2   

  1. 1Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
    2Key Laboratory of Dryland Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing 100081, China
    and 3Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Centre, Ministry of Land and Resources of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing 100034, China
  • Online:2016-01-31 Published:2016-01-28
  • Contact: Rui GUO
  • About author:

    # Co-first authors

Abstract: AimsEffects of salt and alkali stresses (NaCl-Na2SO4 and NaHCO3-Na2CO3) were compared on growth, photosynthesis characters, ionic balance and osmotic adjustment of linseed (Linum usitatissimum), to elucidate the mechanisms of salt and alkali stress (high pH value) damage to plants, and their physiological adaptive mechanisms to the stresses. MethodsThe experiment was carried out in an artificial greenhouse. Plants grew at approximately 700 mmol·m-2·s-1 photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) in greenhouse under photoperiod of 15 h in light and 9 h in dark. In each plastic pot (17 cm diameter) which contained 2.5 kg of washed sand, 20 linseed seeds were sown. The seedlings were exposed to stresses lasting 14 days after 2 months.Important findingsThe inhibitory effects of alkali stress on linseed growth were more remarkable than those of salt stress, indicating that alkali and salt represent two distinct forms of stress. The alkali stress increased the Na+ content in shoots, damaged the photosynthetic system, and highly reduced the net photosynthetic rate and C assimilation capacity. Under salinity stress, the Na+ content increased, the K+ content decreased with increasing stress. Greater changes were observed under alkali than under salt stress. Alkali stress caused the massive influx of Na+, which probably explained that the harmful of alkali stress on plants was stronger than that of salt stress. Under alkali stress, Ca2+ and Mg2+ decreased in roots, showing that high pH value around roots hindered the absorption of them. Fe2+ and Zn2+ had little effects on the osmotic adjustment, mainly because of they had a low ion content. Under salt stress, anion increased in order to balance the sharp increase of Na+. However, alkali stress made severe deficit of negative charge, broke the intracellular ionic balance and pH homeostasis, and caused a series of strain response. Our results showed that linseed enhanced the synthesis of soluble sugars to balance massive influx of Na+ under salt stress, but linseed enhanced the synthesis of organic acids to compensate for the shortage of inorganic anions, which might be a key pathway for the pH adjustment. In conclusion, the alkali stress (high pH value) clearly inhibited the growth, element absorption, ion homeostasis reconstruction of plants. Organic acid concentration is possibly a key adaptive factor for linseed to maintain intracellular ion balance and regulate high pH value under alkali stress.

Key words: Linum usitatissimum, salt stress, alkali stress, growth characters, photosynthesis characters, ionic balance, osmotic adjustment