Salinization is one of the most important causes of crop productivity reduction in many areas of the world. Mechanisms that control leaf growth and shoot development under the osmotic phase of salinity are still obscure, and opinions differ regarding the Abscisic acid (ABA) role in regulation of biomass allocation under salt stress. ABA concentration in roots and leaves was analyzed in a genotype of processing tomato under two increasing levels of salinity stress for five weeks: 100 mM NaCl (S10) and 150 mM NaCl (S15), to study the effect of ABA changes on leaf gas exchange and dry matter partitioning of this crop under salinity conditions. In S15, salinization decreased dry matter by 78% and induced significant increases of Na(+) and Cl(-) in both leaves and roots. Dry matter allocated in different parts of plant was significantly different in salt-stressed treatments, as salinization increased root/shoot ratio 2-fold in S15 and 3-fold in S15 compared to the control. Total leaf water potential (Ψ(w)) decreased from an average value of approximately -1.0 MPa, measured on control plants and S10, to -1.17 MPa in S15. In S15, photosynthesis was reduced by 23% and stomatal conductance decreased by 61%. Moreover, salinity induced ABA accumulation both in tomato leaves and roots of the more stressed treatment (S15), where ABA level was higher in roots than in leaves (550 and 312 ng g(-1) fresh weight, respectively). Our results suggest that the dynamics of ABA and ion accumulation in tomato leaves significantly affected both growth and gas exchange-related parameters in tomato. In particular, ABA appeared to be involved in the tomato salinity response and could play an important role in dry matter partitioning between roots and shoots of tomato plants subjected to salt stress.
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