Polar Biology

, Volume 33, Issue 7, pp 1007–1012 | Cite as

Effects of salinity and temperature on Deschampsia antarctica

  • Christopher T. Ruhland
  • Matthew A. Krna
Short Note


Deschampsia antarctica is one of two species of vascular plants native to Antarctica. Populations of D. antarctica have become established on recently exposed glacial forelands on the Antarctic Peninsula and these plants may rely upon nutrient inputs from hauled out mammals, seabirds and sea spray. However, not much is known about the ability of these plants to tolerate salinity stress. We examined the effects of salinity and temperature on growth, reproduction, chlorophyll fluorescence and water relations of D. antarctica. In addition, we analysed concentrations of free proline in leaves and roots as previous studies have found large increases in the concentration of this amino acid in response to environmental stress. The growth chamber experiment was a 3 × 3 (temperature × salinity) complete factorial. Plants were grown at three temperature regimes: 7°/7°C, 12°/7°C, and 20°/7°C day/night and three salinity levels: <0.02 decismen per metre (dS m−1; “low salinity”), 2.5 dS m−1 (“medium salinity”), and 5.0 dS m−1 (“high salinity”) for 66 days. Warmer temperatures improved leaf and tiller production as well as leaf and root length, which is consistent with previous findings on this species. Salinity reduced final root length by 6 and 13% in the medium and high-salinity treatments, respectively. Plants growing in medium and high-salinity treatments had xylem pressures that were more negative and higher free-proline concentrations, suggesting that proline may act as an osmoregulant in D. antarctica.


Deschampsia antarctica Osmoregulation Proline Salt tolerance Soil salinity Temperature 



This research was supported by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs (Grant OPP-0230579) and a Summer Research Grant from The College of Graduate Studies and Research at Minnesota State University to CTR. We thank Mary Morgan for assistance with proline determinations and Drs. Thomas A Day and Fusheng Xiong for assistance with seed collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, TS-242 Trafton Sciences CenterMinnesota State UniversityMankatoUSA

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