Physiological and biochemical mechanisms of the ornamental Eugenia myrtifolia L. plants for coping with NaCl stress and recovery.

PMID 25976265


We studied the response of Eugenia myrtifolia L. plants, an ornamental shrub native to tropical and subtropical areas, to salt stress in order to facilitate the use of these plants in Mediterranean areas for landscaping. E. myrtifolia plants implement a series of adaptations to acclimate to salinity, including morphological, physiological and biochemical changes. Furthermore, the post-recovery period seems to be detected by Eugenia plants as a new stress situation. Different physiological and biochemical changes in Eugenia myrtifolia L. plants after being subjected to NaCl stress for up to 30 days (Phase I) and after recovery from salinity (Phase II) were studied. Eugenia plants proved to be tolerant to NaCl concentrations between 44 and 88 mM, displaying a series of adaptative mechanisms to cope with salt-stress, including the accumulation of toxic ions in roots. Plants increased their root/shoot ratio and decreased their leaf area, leaf water potential and stomatal conductance in order to limit water loss. In addition, they displayed different strategies to protect the photosynthetic machinery, including the limited accumulation of toxic ions in leaves, increase in chlorophyll content, changes in chlorophyll fluorescence parameters, leaf anatomy and antioxidant defence mechanisms. Anatomical modifications in leaves, including an increase in palisade parenchyma and intercellular spaces and decrease in spongy parenchyma, served to facilitate CO2 diffusion in a situation of reduced stomatal aperture. Salinity produced oxidative stress in Eugenia plants as evidenced by oxidative stress parameters values and a reduction in APX and ASC levels. Nevertheless, SOD and GSH contents increased. The post-recovery period is detected as a new stress situation, as observed through effects on plant growth and alterations in chlorophyll fluorescence and oxidative stress parameters.