Higher phenotypic plasticity does not confer higher salt resistance to Robinia pseudoacacia than Amorpha fruticosa

  • Xiao Guo
  • Xiao-Huang Ren
  • Franziska Eller
  • Ming-Yan Li
  • Ren-Qing Wang
  • Ning Du
  • Wei-Hua Guo
Original Article


A greenhouse experiment was conducted in which two leguminous species commonly used in the Yellow River Delta for vegetation restoration, Robinia pseudoacacia and Amorpha fruticosa, were subjected to five salt treatments: 0, 50, 100, 150, and 200 mmol L−1. We aimed to determine which of the two species would be better suited for growth in a saline environment, and whether the acclimation capacity to salinity resulted from an inherently higher phenotypic plasticity. The results showed that salinity affected most growth and biomass parameters but had no effects on most leaf traits and physiological parameters of the two species. Height, relative growth rate of crown area, root biomass, and leaf mass ratio of R. pseudoacacia were reduced by higher salinity, while A. fruticosa was not affected. Chlorophyll a-to-chlorophyll b ratio and total antioxidative capacity of A. fruticosa increased with higher salinity, whereas those of R. pseudoacacia remained unchanged. Root mass ratio and vitamin C concentration of both species were not affected by salinity, whereas vitamin C concentration of A. fruticosa was higher than that of R. pseudoacacia. The root-to-shoot ratio of A. fruticosa was higher than that of R. pseudoacacia in most salt treatments. Of all leaf traits, only leaf area differed between treatments. R. pseudoacacia generally exhibited a greater plasticity than A. fruticosa in response to salinity, but A. fruticosa was more resistant to the higher salinities than R. pseudoacacia, and was thus a better candidate for vegetation restoration in saline areas.


Salt stress Black locust Indigo bush Phenotypic plasticity Morphological, biochemical, and physiological parameters 



The research was supported by Grants from National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31470402; 31770361; 31500264) and Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province, China (No. BS2015HZ020). We thank Alex Boon, Ph.D., from Liwen Bianji, Edanz Group China (, for editing the English text of a draft of this manuscript. We express our deep gratitude to Dr. Yifu Yuan and Dr. Zhen Feng for assistance in this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11738_2018_2654_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiao Guo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiao-Huang Ren
    • 2
  • Franziska Eller
    • 3
  • Ming-Yan Li
    • 2
  • Ren-Qing Wang
    • 2
  • Ning Du
    • 2
  • Wei-Hua Guo
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Landscape Architecture and ForestryQingdao Agricultural UniversityQingdaoPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity, School of Life SciencesShandong UniversityJinanPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Bioscience, Aquatic BiologyAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark

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