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Plant Physiol. 1983 Oct;73(2):238-42.

Photosynthesis and ion content of leaves and isolated chloroplasts of salt-stressed spinach.

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  • 1Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Division of Horticultural Research, Adelaide 5001, South Australia.


Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) plants were subjected to salt stress by adding NaCl to the nutrient solution in increments of 25 millimolar per day to a final concentration of 200 millimolar. Plants were harvested 3 weeks after starting NaCl treatment. Fresh and dry weight of both shoots and roots was decreased more than 50% compared to control plants but the salt-stressed plants appeared healthy and were still actively growing. The salt-stressed plants had much thicker leaves. The salt-treated plants osmotically adjusted to maintain leaf turgor. Leaf K(+) was decreased but Na(+) and Cl(-) were greatly increased.The potential photosynthetic capacity of the leaves was measured at saturating CO(2) to overcome any stomatal limitation. Photosynthesis of salt-stressed plants varied only by about 10% from the controls when expressed on a leaf area or chlorophyll basis. The yield of variable chlorophyll a fluorescence from leaves was not affected by salt stress. Stomatal conductance decreased 70% in response to salt treatment.Uncoupled rates of electron transport by isolated intact chloroplasts and by thylakoids were only 10 to 20% below those for control plants. CO(2)-dependent O(2) evolution was decreased by 20% in chloroplasts isolated from salt-stressed plants. The concentration of K(+) in the chloroplast decreased by 50% in the salt-stressed plants, Na(+) increased by 70%, and Cl(-) increased by less than 20% despite large increases in leaf Na(+) and Cl(-).It is concluded that, for spinach, salt stress does not result in any major decrease in the photosynthetic potential of the leaf. Actual photosynthesis by the plant may be reduced by other factors such as decreased stomatal conductance and decreased leaf area. Effective compartmentation of ions within the cell may prevent the accumulation of inhibitory levels of Na(+) and Cl(-) in the chloroplast.

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