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Response of three broccoli cultivars to salt stress, in relation to water status and expression of two leaf aquaporins


The aim of this study was to compare differences in water relations in the leaves of three broccoli cultivars and differential induction of the expression of PIP2 aquaporin isoforms under salt stress. Although broccoli is known to be moderately tolerant to salinity, scarce information exists about the involvement of leaf aquaporins in its adaptation to salinity. Thus, leaf water relations, leaf cell hydraulic conductivity (Lpc), gas exchange parameters and the PIP2 expression pattern were determined for short- (15 h) and long- (15 days) term NaCl treatments. In the long term, the lower half-time of water exchange in the cells of cv. Naxos, compared with Parthenon and Chronos, and its increased PIP2 abundance may have contributed to its Lpc maintenance. This unmodified Lpc in cv. Naxos under prolonged salinity may have diluted NaCl in the leaves, as suggested by lower Na+ concentrations in the leaf sap. By contrast, the increase in the half-time of water exchange and the lower PIP2 abundance in cvs. Chronos and Parthenon would have contributed to the reduced Lpc values. In cv. Parthenon, there were no differences between the ε values of control and salt-stressed plants; in consequence, cell turgor was enhanced. Also, the increases in BoPIP2;2 and BoPIP2;3 expression in cv. Chronos for the short-term NaCl treatment suggest that these isoforms are involved in osmotic regulation as downstream factors in this cultivar, in fact, in the short-term, Chronos had a significantly reduced osmotic potential and higher PIP2 isoforms expression.

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G s :

Stomatal conductance


Immunoglobulin G


Plasma membrane intrinsic protein


Quantitative real-time PCR

T :

Transpiration rate

Ψw :

Water potential

Ψ π :

Osmotic potential

Ψ t :

Turgor potential


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The authors thank the Sakata Company for the gift of the seeds. They also thank Dr. David Walker for corrections of the written English in the manuscript. This work was supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, CICYT [AGL2009-12720]. M. C. Martínez-Ballesta thanks the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación for funding through the “Ramón y Cajal” programme [Ref RYC-2009-04574].

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Correspondence to María del Carmen Martínez-Ballesta.

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Muries, B., Carvajal, M. & Martínez-Ballesta, M.d.C. Response of three broccoli cultivars to salt stress, in relation to water status and expression of two leaf aquaporins. Planta 237, 1297–1310 (2013).

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  • Aquaporin
  • Brassica
  • Cell hydraulic conductivity
  • Salinity