Biodiversity of plant species and adaptation to drought and salt conditions. Selection of species for sustainable reforestation activity to combat desertification

  • Cristina M. Monteverdi
  • Marco Lauteri
  • Riccardo Valentini


Soil salinity is a threat for many agriculture and forest communities. Particularly ecosystems surrounding desert and coastal areas need to be preserved and restored for their intrinsic ecological value and vulnerability. Knowledge on physiology and ecology of plant tolerance, resistance and adaptation to salt exposure is fundamental to face land degradation and related desertification processes. Studies of physiological adaptive traits are important to select suitable species for a sustainable management of rural and forest environments. Salinity affects productivity of plant species. Moreover the capacity to tolerate salinity is widely variable at intra-and inter-specific level. It is known that variations of photosynthetic performances and related parameters (e.g., leaf area) are mainly responsible of growth reduction under salt stress. Generally salinity limits CO2 availability at the carboxylation sites. A reduced assimilation rate is often accompanied by a more than proportional decrease in transpiration rate. Thus, salt-stress conditions usually determine an increase of instantaneous water-use efficiency (WUE).The investigation of salinity tolerance in natural environments is not easy because of climatic factors and field heterogeneity of salty soil. Moreover, because of the multiple and complex physiological responses to salinity, it is very important to find a suitable index to properly integrate the different physiological processes involved. Carbon isotope discrimination (Δ) in plant material has been demonstrated by several studies to be a promising approach that integrates physiological processes on different time scales under both drought and salt conditions. Δ is directly related to the ratio of intercellular to atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 (pi/pa) and negatively related with WUE. Moreover, it is a relatively low-cost, easy and non-invasive technique to investigate ecophysiological traits of plant species in controlled and field conditions. A brief overview and perspectives in applying A in ecophysiological studies, related to salinity and drought tolerance, are shown.


Salt Stress Salt Tolerance Salinity Tolerance Glycine Betaine Carbon Isotope Discrimination 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag/Switzerland 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina M. Monteverdi
    • 1
  • Marco Lauteri
    • 2
  • Riccardo Valentini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forest Sciences and ResourcesUniversity ofTusciaViterboItaly
  2. 2.CNR, Institute of Agro- Environmental and Forest BiologyPorano (TR)Italy

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