Responses of germination and radicle growth of two Populus species to water potential and salinity
The effects of water potential, NaCl and Na2SO4 on germination and radicle growth of two riparian tree species, Populus euphratica Oliv. and P. pruinosa Schrenk (Salicaceae), were tested. Growth chamber studies revealed an optimum temperature range for seed germination of both species between 15–35°C. The final germination percentage of both species decreases with decreasing water potential in all types of solution applied in the experiments. P. pruinosa was less tolerant to low ψ W stress than P. euphratica, especially in salt solutions. Germination percentages fell below 20% for P. pruinosa at −0.6 MPa (NaCl) or −0.4 MPa (Na2SO4) and for P. euphratica at −1.2 MPa (NaCl) or −0.6 MPa (Na2SO4). Radicle growth of both species was inhibited by high concentrations of PEG, NaCl and Na2SO4. However, growth was enhanced at −0.13 and −0.29 MPa in PEG or at −0.13 MPa in NaCl solutions compared to distilled water. Radicle growth of P. euphratica was higher than that of P. pruinosa. Germination and radicle growth of both species exhibited ion toxicity. Na2SO4 was more toxic than iso-osmotic solutions of NaCl. Radicle growth proved to be more sensitive than seed germination. Thus, flooding does not only yield the necessary soil moisture for germination but also favors seedling establishment of both species through leaching of salts from the soil surface. The different sensitivity of the species during their early growth stages might, moreover, contribute to the observed differences in their distribution in the Talim Basin (northwest China).
Key wordsPopulus euphratica P. pruinosa germination salinity radicle growth the Talim Basin
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