Biochemical Markers of Salt Stress in European Larch (Larix decidua)
Larix decidua, the European larch, does not grow in natural saline areas, but it can be affected by salinity either by the common practice of winter de-icing of mountain roads with NaCl, or when grown as an ornamental tree in urban areas by the use of low quality, salinised irrigation water. In the present study, the responses to salt stress of young seedlings obtained from seeds of seven Carpathian larch populations were analysed. After 30 days of treatments with 150 mM NaCl, growth and biochemical parameters were determinated. Salt stress inhibited growth of all seedlings, as shown by the relative reduction of stem length and fresh weight, and induced significant changes in the needle levels of several biochemical stress markers. Seedlings from all populations showed a marked reduction of photosynthetic pigments contents and an increase of proline and malondialdehyde (MDA) concentrations. Under salt stress, plants accumulated Na+ and Cl- in the needles, whereas K+ was maintained at a steady level. Responses of seedlings from the different populations were similar, with only small quantitative differences that did not allow the identification of more salt tolerant genotypes. However, the study revealed that several of the biochemical markers mentioned above can be suitable for the rapid and non-destructive assessment of the effects of salinity in European larch.
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