Vegetative and reproductive growth of salt-stressed chickpea are carbon-limited: Sucrose infusion at the reproductive stage improves salt tolerance

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Abstract

Reproductive processes of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) are particularly sensitive to salinity. We tested whether limited photoassimilate availability contributes to reproductive failure in salt-stressed chickpea. Rupali, a salt-sensitive genotype, was grown in aerated nutrient solution, either with non-saline (control) or 30mM NaCl treatment. At flowering, stems were either infused with sucrose solution (0.44M), water only or maintained without any infusion, for 75 d. The sucrose and water infusion treatments of non-saline plants had no effect on growth or yield, but photosynthesis declined in response to sucrose infusion. Salt stress reduced photosynthesis, decreased tissue sugars by 22-47%, and vegetative and reproductive growth were severely impaired. Sucrose infusion of salt-treated plants increased total sugars in stems, leaves and developing pods, to levels similar to those of non-saline plants. In salt-stressed plants, sucrose infusion increased dry mass (2.6-fold), pod numbers (3.8-fold), seed numbers (6.5-fold) and seed yield (10.4-fold), yet vegetative growth and reproductive failure were not rescued completely by sucrose infusion. Sucrose infusion partly rescued reproductive failure in chickpea by increasing vegetative growth enabling more flower production and by providing sucrose for pod and seed growth. We conclude that insuffcient assimilate availability limits yield in salt-stressed chickpea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2001-2011
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Volume68
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

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