Effect of Salinity on Physiological Processes in Plants

  • Okon Godwin Okon
Part of the Soil Biology book series (SOILBIOL, volume 56)


Soil salinity is amongst the most severe globally threatening abiotic stress problems that affects approximately 20% of irrigated lands and reduces crop yields and productivity significantly. The process of soil salinization can be majorly attributed to natural contributors such as weathering of parental rocks, oceanic salt deposition and groundwater table fluctuations, while the common anthropogenic factors contributing to salinization include irrigational water and the incessant and disproportionate usage of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. In saline environs, soil salinity affects plants in several ways and induces dissimilar but distinctive stresses such as osmotic, ionic and oxidative stress. As a consequence of excessive accumulation and toxicity of excessive Na+ and Cl in the plants, there is a negative effect on almost every known physiological and biochemical metabolic pathway in plants which includes inhibition of photosynthetic activities, membrane disorder, production of toxic metabolites, production of ROS and attenuated water and nutrient acquisition leading to physiological drought, chlorosis and necrosis and cell and subsequently whole plant death as a result of Na+ and Cl intrusion on many physiological processes in plants. Plants grown in saline environments device a series of adaptive measures to acclimatize to saline conditions; this includes morphological, physiological and biochemical variations. These variations comprise of upsurges in the photosynthetic pigment composition, root/canopy quotient as well as leaf anatomy and ion compartmentalization that ultimately leads to reduction in leaf ion toxicity, thus preserving the water status, limiting water loss and, hence, protecting the process of photosynthesis. This chapter thus discusses the effects of salinity on physiological processes of plants. It also provides some future viewpoints which will widen scientific understanding of exactly how soil salinity distresses the physiological physiognomies of plants.


Ionic toxicity Nutrient disparity Osmotic stress Oxidative stress Salt tolerance Soil salinization 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Okon Godwin Okon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyAkwa Ibom State UniversityIkot AkpadenNigeria

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