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Plant Physiol. 1989;90:53-8.

Effects of NaCl on metabolic heat evolution rates by barley roots.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, Davis 95616.


The effect of salinity stress on metabolic heat output of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) root tips was measured by isothermal microcalorimetry. Several varieties differing in tolerance to salinity were compared and differences quantified. Two levels of inhibition by increasing salt were found. Following the transition from the initial rate of the first level, inhibition remained at about 50% with further increases in salt concentration up to 150 millimolar. The concentration of salt required to inhibit to this level was cultivar dependent. At highter concentrations (>150 millimolar) of salt, metabolism was further decreased. This decrease was not cultivar dependent. The decreased rate of metabolic heat output at the first transition could be correlated with decreases in uptake of NO3-, NH4+, and Pi that occurred as the salt concentration was increased. The high degree of dependence of the inhibition of metabolic heat output on NaCl concentration points to a highly cooperative reaction responsible for the general inhibition of metabolism and nutrient uptake. The time required to attain the first level of salt inhibition is less than 20 minutes. Inhibition of root tips was not reversible by washing with salt free solutions. In addition to revealing these features of salt inhibition, isothermal microcalorimetry is a promising method for convenient and rapid determination of varietal differences in response to increasing salinity.

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