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Morpho-physiological response to vertically heterogeneous soil salinity of two glycophyte woody taxa, Salix matsudana x S. alba and Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh



Growth and physiology of Salix matsudana x S. alba and E. camaldulensis were evaluated in vertical saline gradients to test whether growth is determined by the mean salinity of rhizosphere, the average salinity weighed by the root number in each portion of the soil, the lowest or the highest rhizosphere salinity.


Saplings were grown in pots with an original irrigation system determining upper and lower soil layers with a combination of 4 treatments: control, moderate homogeneous salinity (Ho), and heterogeneous salinity, with high concentration of NaCl in the upper (HeU) or in the lower soil layer (HeL).


E. camaldulensis saline treatments decreased Ψpre-dawn and Ψosmotic. HeU and HeL did not decrease stem growth (RVG), but HeL reduced root biomass in lower soil layer. Ho treatment reduced RVG (50%), increasing leaf senescence and altering some ions concentration (but not Na+). In Salix sp., Ho decreased Ψpre-dawn and chlorophyll content, increasing leaf senescence and Cl concentration resulting in low leaf biomass. HeL also decreased plant total biomass.


Lower concentration of salt homogeneously distributed in soil profile would have more effect than high salt concentration but restricted to one soil layer. The negative impact of high salinity would be higher if salts are in deeper than in upper soil layers. Salt tolerance thresholds would then depend more on the salt spatial distribution in the soil than on its average concentration along the rhizosphere.

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Fig. 1
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Fig. 6


0% DLB:

Fully green leaves without apparent damage biomass


Proportion between 0%DLB and TLB

1–50% DLB:

Leaves biomass with senescence symptoms in less than the 50% of their surface


Proportion between 1 and 50% DLB and TLB

50–100% DLB:

Leaves biomass with senescence symptoms in more than the 50% of their surface


Proportion between 50 and 100%DLB and TLB


Control, pot irrigated with tap water


Electrical conductivity of the soil


Salt gradient with higher EC in the lower layer


Stomatal conductance


Salt gradient with higher EC in the upper layer


Homogeneus salt distribution


Lower soil layer of the pot


Root biomass in the lower soil layer


Proportion between LRB and TRB


Relative volume growth


Stem biomass


Shoot biomass, SB + TLB


Proportion between ShB and TB


Total biomass, ShB + TRB


Total leaves biomass


Total root biomass


Upper soil layer of the pot


Root biomass in the upper soil layer


Proportion between URB and TRB

Ψpre-dawn :

Pre dawn shoot water potential

Ψosm :

Osmotic potential


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We thank Dr. F. Andrade (Crop Ecophysiology Laboratory of INTA EEA Balcarce, Argentina, CONICET Argentina) for his valuable comments on this manuscript, N. Pugliese for helping in the construction of the experimental system, S. Quiñones and A Gago for help during the sampling, and M. Colabelli for her support and advice during different stages of the study. This work is part of the doctoral studies of A.Q.M at the Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata (Argentina), supported by a fellowship of the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET, Argentina).

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Correspondence to Adriana S. Quiñones Martorello.

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This work was funded by grants 300511–UCAR (Unidad Para el Cambio Rural) –MAGyP (Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Pesca) and PNFOR110473 - INTA (Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria), Argentina.

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Responsible Editor: Frans J.M Maathuis.

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Quiñones Martorello, A.S., Gyenge, J.E. & Fernández, M.E. Morpho-physiological response to vertically heterogeneous soil salinity of two glycophyte woody taxa, Salix matsudana x S. alba and Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh . Plant Soil 416, 343–360 (2017).

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  • Soil salinity gradients
  • Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  • Salix matsudana x S. alba “NZ 26992”
  • Hydric conditions
  • Growth
  • Leaf ions concentration