The influence of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungus Glomus mosseae on characteristics of the growth, water status, chlorophyll concentration, gas exchange, and chlorophyll fluorescence of maize plants under salt stress was studied in the greenhouse. Maize plants were grown in sand and soil mixture with five NaCl levels (0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 g/kg dry substrate) for 55 days, following 15 days of non-saline pretreatment. Under salt stress, mycorrhizal maize plants had higher dry weight of shoot and root, higher relative chlorophyll content, better water status (decreased water saturation deficit, increased water use efficiency, and relative water content), higher gas exchange capacity (increased photosynthetic rate, stomatal conductance and transpiration rate, and decreased intercellular CO2 concentration), higher non-photochemistry efficiency [increased non-photochemical quenching values (NPQ)], and higher photochemistry efficiency [increased the maximum quantum yield in the dark-adapted state (Fv/Fm), the maximum quantum yield in the light-adapted sate (Fv′/Fm′), the actual quantum yield in the light-adapted steady state (ϕPSII) and the photochemical quenching values (qP)], compared with non-mycorrhizal maize plants. In addition, AM symbiosis could trigger the regulation of the energy biturcation between photochemical and non-photochemical events reflected in the deexcitation rate constants (kN, kN′, kP, and kP′). All the results show that G. mosseae alleviates the deleterious effect of salt stress on plant growth, through improving plant water status, chlorophyll concentration, and photosynthetic capacity, while the influence of AM symbiosis on photosynthetic capacity of maize plants can be indirectly affected by soil salinity and mycorrhizae-mediated enhancement of water status, but not by the mycorrhizae-mediated enhancement of chlorophyll concentration and plant biomass.
Arbuscular mycorrhiza Chlorophyll fluorescence Gas exchange Salt stress Water status Zea
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The study was supported by the Key Project of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (30630054, 30730073) and the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in the University of China (IRT0748).
We are indebted to Hamel Chantal, Ph.D., from Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, for her assistance and comments in the preparation of this article.
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