Substrate salinity is one of the main abiotic factors limiting plant establishment, growth and distribution in coastal habitats. Nevertheless, few studies have investigated the interaction between salt concentration and duration of exposure on the physiology and growth of Carpobrotus edulis, an important invasive plant species growing in coastal dune habitats. In this study, four salinity treatment cycles of different length (three, six, twelve and twenty-four days) at salinity of 0 M, 0.1 M, 0.2 M and 0.3 M were imposed. A significant response in plant growth was elicited after 24 days of treatment. The main shoot length (MSL) and stem biomass (SBMS) increased by 11% and 4%, respectively at 0.1 M and by 25% and 6% at 0.2 M compared with the control. At 0.3 M MSL did not significantly differ from the control while SBMS was 18% lower. Moreover, C. edulis showed a high photoprotection mechanism efficiency resulting in a high carotenoid to chlorophyll ratio increase which was two, three and four times higher than the control at 0.1 M, 0.2 M and 0.3 M, respectively. Photochemically, the quantum yield of photosynthesis (ΦPSII) was 17%, 50% and 52% lower than the control at 0.1 M, 0.2 M and 0.3 M. The ΦPSII decrease was associated with a low leaf nitrogen content (NL) decrease (16%, 21% lower than the control at 0.1 M and 0.2 M, respectively). By contrast, NL had the highest decrease (41% lower than the control) at 0.3 M, which constrains the growth capacity. Overall, C. edulis was able to modulate its response to salinity. The salt stimulated shoot elongation at low or moderate salt concentrations could confer a competitive advantage making C. edulis even more efficient in establishing within the areas which it colonizes. Since the expansion of C. edulis may be enhanced by the forecasted increase in soil salinity, it will be of paramount importance to apply effective management practices in areas invaded by C. edulis to limit its expansion and preserve the native plant biodiversity.
Varone, L., Catoni, R., Bonito, A., Gini, E., & Gratani, L. (2017). Photochemical performance of Carpobrotus edulis in response to various substrate salt concentrations. South African Journal of Botany, 111, 258–266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2017.03.035