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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 80 (6) 306-315 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2015/80.6.6
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2015 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

Structural, physiological and biochemical responses of Pyrus calleryana offspring to salt stress

X. Li1,2, W. Dong3, J. Lin1, Z. Wang2, Q. Yang2, Y. Chang1,2 and Z. Zhang1
1College of Horticulture, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China
2Institute of Horticulture, Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Nanjing, China
3China Rural Technology Development Center, Beijing, China

Pyrus calleryana is an important rootstock of pear because it has a high tolerance to salt stress; however, the mechanism of this high salt tolerance remains unclear. In this study, an assessment of salt tolerance in P. calleryana offspring was conducted, and the physiological and structural mechanisms of salt tolerance in two representative lines, one (Ps) with a sensitivity to salt stress and another (Pr) with a high resistance to salt stress. It was found that salt stress significantly reduced chlorophyll content, net photosynthetic and transpiration rate, stomatal conductance, and chlorophyll fluorescence parameters, but there were more reductions in those parameters in the Ps compared with the Pr. In contrast, electrical conductivity and the contents of malondialdehyde (MDA) and H2O2 in the Ps and Pr significantly increased after salt stress, and there was a greater increase in the three parameters in the Ps compared with the Pr. POD activity decreased in the Ps, but it increased in the Pr after salt stress. Moreover, the Ps had a greater degree of increase in Na+ concentration compared with the Pr after salt treatment, whereas there was a greater reduction in K+, Ca2+ and Mg2+ contents in the Ps leaves than in the Pr leaves. Furthermore, salt treatment caused serious damage to the leaf microstructure and ultrastructure of the Ps, while the Pr leaf structure was not severely affected by the salt treatment. The results indicate that salt tolerance in P. calleryana is determined by multiple genes, and Pr possesses a well-integrated system to alleviate salt damage.

Keywords elemental ions, malondialdehyde (MDA), photosynthesis, rootstock, salt damage, ultrastructure

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • Pyrus calleryana is an important pear rootstock as it has a high tolerance to salt stress, but its mechanism of high salt tolerance is unclear.
What are the new findings?
  • Salt tolerance of P. calleryana is determined by multiple genes, and Pr possesses a well-integrated system to alleviate salt damage.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • These findings will provide valuable information for revealing the molecular mechanism of high salt tolerance of this species.

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Received: 21 April 2015 | Revised: 7 July 2015 | Accepted: 24 July 2015 | Published: 21 December 2015 | Available online: 21 December 2015

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