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Photosynthetic and Stomatal Responses of Spinach Leaves to Salt Stress


Photosynthetic and Stomatal Responses of Spinach Leaves to Salt Stress

W J Downton et al. Plant Physiol.


The gas exchange of spinach plants, salt-stressed by adding NaCl to the nutrient solution in increments of 25 millimolar per day to a final concentration of 200 millimolar, was studied 3 weeks after starting NaCl treatment. Photosynthesis became light saturated at 1100 to 1400 micromoles per square meter per second in salt-treated plants and at approximately 2000 micromoles per square meter per second in control plants. Photosynthetic capacity of the mesophyll measured as a function of intercellular partial pressure of CO(2) at the light intensity prevailing during growth and at light saturation were both decreased in the salttreated plants. The CO(2) compensation points and relative enhancements of photosynthesis at low O(2) were not affected by salinity. The lower photosynthetic rates in salt-treated leaves at 450 micromoles per square meter per second were associated with a 70% reduction in stomatal conductance and low intercellular CO(2) (219 microbars; cf. 285 microbars for controls). Increasing photon flux density to light saturation extended the linear portions of the CO(2) response curves, increased stomatal conductances, increased intercellular CO(2) in the salt-treated plants, but lowered it in controls, and accentuated differences in photosynthetic rate (area basis) between the treatments.Leaves from salt-treated plants were thicker but contained about 73% of the chlorophyll per unit area of control plants. When photosynthetic rates were expressed on a chlorophyll basis there was no difference in initial slope of assimilation versus intercellular CO(2) between treatments. Photosynthetic rates (chlorophyll basis) at light saturation differed only by 20% which was also observed earlier with isolated, intact chloroplasts (Robinson et al. 1983 Plant Physiol 73: 238-242).Measurement of carbon isotope ratio revealed less discrimination against (13)C with salt treatment and confirmed the persistence of low intercellular partial pressures of CO(2) during plant growth. The development of a thicker leaf with less chlorophyll per unit area during salt treatment permitted stomatal conductance and intercellular partial pressure of CO(2) to decline without restricting photosynthesis and had the benefit of greatly increasing water use efficiency.

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