Can differences in salinity tolerance explain the distribution of four genetically distinct lineages of Phragmites australis in the Mississippi River Delta?

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In the Mississippi River Delta, the common wetland grass, Phragmites australis, displays high genetic diversity, as several genetically distinct populations are co-occurring. Differences in salinity tolerance may be an important factor determining these populations' distribution in the delta. Our study investigated the salt tolerance of four genotypes exposed to 0, 10, 20, 30, and 40 ppt salinity. The growth rate, biomass, and the light-saturated photosynthetic rate were stimulated at 10 ppt salinity and inhibited at salinities higher than 20 ppt, compared to controls. Increased concentrations of Cl and Na were found in the roots and older leaves of plants exposed to high salinities. Salt tolerance levels differed between genotypes. High salinity tolerance was mainly achieved by reduced water uptake and vacuole compartmentalization of toxic ions. The most tolerant genotype sustained biomass and photosynthesis even at 40 ppt, whereas the most sensitive genotype did not survive salinities higher than 20 ppt. Our findings show that the observed occurrence of different genotypes in the Mississippi River Delta is correlated to genetically determined differences in salinity tolerance. Further investigations are needed to better understand the role that salinity tolerance plays in the invasion of certain introduced P. australis genotypes.
Sider (fra-til)5-23
Antal sider19
StatusUdgivet - 2014

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