Differential responses of the mangrove Avicennia marina to salinity and abscisic acid

Ruth Reef, Nele Schmitz, Britt A. Rogers, Marilyn C. Ball, Catherine E. Lovelock

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Salinisation of the soil can cause plant water deficits, ion and nutrient imbalances and toxic reactions. The halophyte, Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh., is a mangrove that tolerates a wide range of soil salinities. In order to understand how salinity affects plant growth and functioning and how salinity responses are influenced by the water deficit signalling hormone abscisic acid (ABA) we grew A. marina seedlings under two non-growth limiting salinities: 60% seawater and 90% seawater and with and without exogenously supplied ABA. We measured growth, photosynthesis, sap flow, aquaporin gene expression, hydraulic anatomy and nutrient status as well as sap ABA concentrations. ABA addition resulted in a drought phenotype (reduced sap flow, transpiration rates and photosynthesis and increased water use efficiency and aquaporin expression). In contrast, growth in high salinity did not lead to responses that are typical for water deficits, but rather, could be characterised as drought avoidance strategies (no reduction in sap flow, transpiration rates and photosynthesis and reduced aquaporin expression). Tissue nutrient concentrations were higher in seedlings grown at high salinities. We did not find evidence for a role for ABA in the mangrove salinity response, suggesting ABA is not produced directly in response to high concentrations of NaCl ions. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1038-1046
Number of pages9
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • ABA
  • aquaporins
  • halophytes
  • salinity tolerance
  • sap flow
  • stomata.

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