Diversity in the genus Melilotus for tolerance to salinity and waterlogging

M.E. Rogers, Tim Colmer, Kirsten Frost, D. Henry, D. Cornwall, E. Hulm, J. Deretic, S.R. Hughes, A.D. Craig

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Identifying forage species that are productive in saline environments is an important research priority in many areas of the world affected by salinity. The salt and waterlogging tolerances of 19 species of Melilotus were evaluated in a series of glasshouse experiments. Measurements taken on each species included: dry matter (DM) production, root growth and development, shoot ion (Na+, K+ and Cl−) concentrations, root porosity, and in vitro estimates of nutritive value. Research on several species was restricted because of their potential as weed risks. Of the remaining species, M. siculus (syn. M. messanensis), an annual species, showed high relative salt and waterlogging tolerances, good DM production under non-stressed and stressed (saline and hypoxic) conditions, a high level of root porosity under stagnant conditions, low tissue ion (Na+, Cl−) concentrations, and a reasonable dry matter digestibility content (range 66–69%) under highly saline conditions. M. sulcatus ssp. segetalis and M. indicus were also identified as species with good DM production and tolerance to salinity and waterlogging stresses. Further weed risk assessments and field trials on these species are required before they can be promoted for use as pasture forages on saline areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-101
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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