Interactive effects of salinity and nitrogen forms on plant growth, photosynthesis and osmotic adjustment in maize

Kamel Hessini, Khawla Issaoui, Selma Ferchichi, Tarek Saif, Chedly Abdelly, Kadambot H.M. Siddique, Cristina Cruz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To enhance crop productivity and minimize the harmful effects of various environmental stresses, such as salinity and drought, farmers often use mineral fertilizers. However, inadequate or excessive fertilization can reduce plant growth and nutritive quality and contribute to soil degradation and environmental pollution. This study investigated the effects of salinity (0, 100 or 150 mM NaCl) and nitrogen form (sole NO 3 or NH 4 + , or combined NO 3 :NH 4 + at 25:75 or 50:50) on growth, photosynthesis, and water and ion status of a commercial variety of maize (Zea mays SY Sincero). In the absence of NaCl, the media containing ammonium only or both nitrogen forms had higher aboveground growth rates than that containing nitrate only. Indeed, the maize growth, expressed as leaf dry matter, seen on NH 4 + in the absence of salinity, was nearly double the biomass compared to that with NO 3 treatment. Irrespective of N form, the presence of NaCl severely reduced leaf and roots growth; the presence of ammonium in the nutrient solution diminished these negative effects. Compared to the NH 4 + only and combined treatments, the leaves of plants in the NO 3 -only medium showed signs of nitrogen deficiency (general chlorosis), which was more pronounced in the lower than upper leaves, indicating that nitrate is partly replaced by chloride during root uptake. NH 4 + favored maize growth more than NO 3 , especially when exposed to saline conditions, and may improve the plant's capacity to osmotically adjust to salinity by accumulating inorganic solutes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-178
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Physiology and Biochemistry
Volume139
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019

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