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Physiological and photosynthetic responses of melon (Cucumis melo L.) seedlings to three Glomus species under water deficit

Abstract

Melon (Cucumis melo L.)—an important horticultural crop that is often cultivated in simply equipped solar greenhouses in northwestern regions of China—usually suffers under poor water management. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis can play a major role in enhancing drought tolerance. Plant growth, physiological, and photosynthetic responses of melon plants inoculated with three Glomus species under two water conditions were investigated. Results show that inoculation with Glomus improves the physiological and photosynthetic parameters of inoculated seedlings compared with non-AM seedlings. Regardless of water conditions, plant height, root length, biomass production, antioxidant enzyme activity, soluble sugar content, net photosynthetic rate, and photosynthetic water use efficiency were elevated in AM seedlings compared to non-AM seedlings. Each Glomus species manifests unique effects under the two watering conditions. We posit that AM symbiosis can protect melon plants against water deficiencies by improving their antioxidant activity, bi-directional transport of carbohydrates, and photosynthetic capacity. In addition, regardless of water conditions, the most efficient fungus for melon (Cucumis melo L.) was Glomus mosseae.

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Abbreviations

AM:

Arbuscular mycorrhiza

AMF:

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

Ca:

Ambient partial pressure of CO2

CAT:

Catalase

Ci:

Intercellular CO2 concentration

G-POD:

Guaiacol peroxidase

Gs:

Stomatal conductance

ls:

Stomatal limitations

MD:

Mycorrhizal dependency

Pn:

Net photosynthetic rate

PWUE:

Photosynthetic water use efficiency

RWC:

Relative water content

SOD:

Superoxide dismutase

Tr:

Transpiration rate

WD:

Water deficit

WW:

Well-watered

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Acknowledgments

Seeds and mycorrhizal inocula were provided by the Institute of Vegetables and Flowers, CAAS, Beijing, PR, China. This work was funded by the Chinese National Science and Technology Support Programme (2007BAD79B04 and 2006AA10Z421).

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Correspondence to Zhirong Zou.

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Responsible Editor: Katharina Pawlowski.

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Huang, Z., Zou, Z., He, C. et al. Physiological and photosynthetic responses of melon (Cucumis melo L.) seedlings to three Glomus species under water deficit. Plant Soil 339, 391–399 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-010-0591-z

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Keywords

  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • Water deficit
  • Photosynthesis
  • Antioxidant system
  • Growth
  • Melon