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Effects of sodium chloride stress on gas exchange, chlorophyll content and nutrient concentrations of nine citrus rootstocks

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We investigated the influence of salinity (0, 25, 50, or 75 mM NaCl) on gas exchange and physiological characteristics of nine citrus rootstocks (Cleopatra mandarin, Carrizo citrange, Macrophylla, Iranian mandarin Bakraii, Rangpur lime, Rough lemon, Sour orange, Swingle citrumelo, and Trifoliate orange) in a greenhouse experiment. Total plant dry mass, total chlorophyll (Chl) content, and gas-exchange variables, such as net photosynthetic rate (P N), stomatal conductance (g s), intercellular CO2 concentration, were negatively affected by salinity. In addition, ion concentrations of Cl and Na+ increased by salinity treatments. Salinity also increased Mg2+ content in roots and reduced Ca2+ and Mg2+ concentrations in leaves. The K+ concentration in leaves was enhanced at low salinity (25 mM NaCl), whereas it decreased with increasing salinity stress. Salinity caused a decline in K+ contents in roots. The rootstocks showed major differences in the extent of Cl and Na+ accumulation in leaves and in their ability to maintain the internal concentrations of essential nutrients in response to different salinity. Therefore, in addition to inhibitory effects of high concentrations of Cl and Na+, an imbalance of essential nutrients may also contribute to the reduction in gas exchange under saline conditions. Higher tolerance of rootstocks to salinity could be associated with the reduction of Cl and Na+ uptake and transport to leaves, ability to keep higher Chl, g s, P N, and better maintenance of nutrient uptake even under high salinity. We found that Sour orange and Cleopatra mandarin were the rootstocks most tolerant to salinity of all nine studied. In addition, Trifoliate orange, Carrizo citrange, and Swingle citrumelo were the rootstocks most sensitive to salt stress followed by the Rough lemon and Macrophylla that showed a low-to-moderate tolerance, and Rangpur lime and Bakraii, with a moderate-to-high tolerance to high salinity.

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C a :

atmospheric CO2 concentration

C i :

intercellular CO2 concentration




dry mass

g s :

stomatal conductance

P N :

net photosynthetic rate


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Correspondence to D. Khoshbakht.

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Acknowledgements: Here we would like to thank the Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture, Isfahan University of Technology, for financial support of the research. The results presented in this paper are of M. Sc studies of the first author.

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Khoshbakht, D., Ramin, A.A. & Baninasab, B. Effects of sodium chloride stress on gas exchange, chlorophyll content and nutrient concentrations of nine citrus rootstocks. Photosynthetica 53, 241–249 (2015).

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