Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Colonization Promotes the Tolerance to Salt Stress in Lettuce Plants through an Efficient Modification of Ionic Balance

  • Christian Santander
  • Mario Sanhueza
  • Jorge Olave
  • Fernando Borie
  • Alexander Valentine
  • Pablo CornejoEmail author
Research Article


Soil salinity is the biggest problem which hinders the productivity of agricultural crops, causing adverse effects on plant growth and development. In this regard, it has been shown that the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can establish a symbiosis with most agricultural plants improving water and nutrient absorption under salinity stress conditions. The functional contribution of AMF strains (Claroideoglomus claroideum (Cc) and a native consortium of AMF (HM) isolated from saline soils) on the growth and nutrition of lettuce plants (Lactuca sativa var. longifolia) was evaluated under increasing salt stress conditions (0, 40, and 80 mM NaCl). At 60 days of growth, biomass production, nutrient content (N, P), ions (Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+), chlorophyll, proline content, and AMF propagules were evaluated. The highest growth was observed in plants inoculated with Cc, which produced a higher percentage of root colonization and hyphal length at all levels of salinity, compared to plants inoculated with HM or non-inoculated plants. These results were directly related to higher biomass production, increased synthesis of proline, increased N uptake, and noticeable changes in ionic relations, based in a diminishing Na+, compared to non-mycorrhizal plants. Our results suggest that this improved ionic balance is due to a filtering effect of AMF structures both in the soil and in the root that prevents the entry of toxic Na+ ions, which is important due to the level of lettuce production on saline soils improving the crop by means of directed inoculation with efficient AMF strains.


AMF strains Fungal propagules Ionic balance Osmotic stress Salinity 


Funding information

The authors thank CONICYT, Chile, for the financial support through a scholarship for Doctoral Thesis, Grant No. 21161211 (C. Santander); FONDECYT Regular Grant No. 1170264 (P. Cornejo); PAI-MEC program, Grant No. 80170023 (A. Valentine); and CONICYT/FONDAP/15130015 (P. Cornejo).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Sociedad Chilena de la Ciencia del Suelo 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencias Químicas y Recursos Naturales, Centro de Investigación en Micorrizas y Sustentabilidad Agroambiental (CIMYSA), Programa de Doctorado en Ciencias de Recursos NaturalesUniversidad de La FronteraTemucoChile
  2. 2.Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo en Recursos Hídricos (CIDERH)Universidad Arturo PratIquiqueChile
  3. 3.Facultad de Farmacia, Programa de Doctorado en Ciencia y Tecnología AnalíticaUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  4. 4.Facultad de Ciencias de Recursos NaturalesUniversidad Católica de TemucoTemucoChile
  5. 5.Department of Botany and ZoologyStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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