Effects of sodium chloride salinity on ecophysiological and biochemical parameters of oak seedlings (Quercus robur L.) from use of de-icing salts for winter road maintenance
Salt is widely used to melt snow on roads especially in mountain regions. Whether as rock salt or aerosols, spread or sprayed over road surfaces, salt may result in increased salt concentrations in soils, which, in turn, affect natural vegetation, especially tree seedlings already subjected to various other types of abiotic stress. The authors investigated the effects of salt treatment-related stress on seedling growth and certain biochemical parameters in Quercus robur to determine ion concentrations in root tips. Seedlings growing in a quartz sand/vermiculite mixture were subjected to NaCl concentrations of 0, 50, or 100 mM for 5 weeks. The results showed that high NaCl concentrations caused a marked reduction in total leaf biomass 55 and 75% for 50 and 100 mM treatments, respectively, in dry weight of stems (84%) and roots (175%) for 100 mM treatment and modified root architecture, whereas no changes appeared in leaf number. A non-significant decrease in relative water content, with changes in ion balance was recorded. Comparison of stressed to control plants show an increase in sodium (3.5–8-fold), potassium (0.6-fold), and chloride (9.5–14-fold) concentrations in the root tips while the K+/Na+ ratio decreased. In taproots, no significant biochemical differences were observed between the salt-treated and the control plants for acid invertase activity, reducing sugars, sucrose, or soluble protein contents. The significance of ion and sugar accumulations in relation to osmotic adjustment and the ability of oak seedlings to cope with salt stress are discussed.
KeywordsSalt stress Quercus robur Root growth Water relations Sucrose catabolism
The authors are grateful to the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME—France), the Regional Council (Conseil Régional) of Franche-Comté and the Rhone-Mediterranean and Corsica Water Agency (Agence de l’Eau Rhône-Méditerranée and Corse) for their financial support.
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