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Influence of NaCl-salinity on growth, photosynthesis, water relations and solute accumulation in Phragmites australis


The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of NaCl-salinity on the physiological attributes in common reed, Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steudel. Plants grew optimally under salinity treatment with standard nutrient solution without added salt and at NaCl concentrations up to 100 mM. Applied for 21 days, NaCl-salinity (300 and 500 mM) caused a significant reduction in growth allocation of all different tissues of P. australis. Shoot growth of reed plants displayed a highly significant correlation with plant–water relations and photosynthetic parameters. The net photosynthetic rate and stomatal conductance of reed plants treated with NaCl-salinity at varying osmotic potential (ψπ) of nutrient solutions were positively correlated, and the former variable also had a strong positive relationship with transpiration rate. Leaf water potential and ψπ followed similar trends and declined significantly as ψπ of watering solutions was lowered. The increase in total inorganic nutrients resulting from increased Na+ and Cl in all tissues and K+, Ca2+ and Mg2+ concentrations were maintained even at the most extreme salt concentration. Common reed exhibited high K+/Na+ and Ca2+/Na+ selectivity ratios over a wide range of salinities under NaCl-salinity. These findings suggest that reed plants were able to adapt well to high salinities by lowering their leaf ψπ and the adjustment of osmotically active solutes in the leaves.

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Fig. 5


C i :

Internal CO2 concentration


Dry mass

E :

Transpiration rate


Fresh mass

g s :

Stomatal conductance

P N :

Net photosynthetic rate


Relative growth rate

S K/Na :

K+/Na+ selectivity ratio

S Ca/Na :

Ca2+/Na+ selectivity ratio

ψπ :

Osmotic potential

ψp :

Turgor potential

ψw :

Water potential


Water use efficiency

WUEi :

Intrinsic WUE


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We are thankful to the journal associate editor Prof. Sylvie Renault and three anonymous referees for their constructive comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Mustapha Gorai.

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Communicated by S. Renault.

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Gorai, M., Ennajeh, M., Khemira, H. et al. Influence of NaCl-salinity on growth, photosynthesis, water relations and solute accumulation in Phragmites australis . Acta Physiol Plant 33, 963–971 (2011).

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  • Ion accumulation
  • Osmotic adjustment
  • Photosynthesis
  • Phragmites australis
  • Proline
  • Relative growth rate
  • Salinity
  • Water relations