Variability in the Response of Chickpea Cultivars to Short-Term Salinity, in Terms of Water Retention Capacity, Membrane Permeability, and Osmo-Protection


Abstract: Seedlings of 2 chickpea cultivars (Cicer arietinum L.), salt-tolerant kabuli (CSG 9651) and salt-sensitive desi (DCP 92-3), were raised under control (distilled water) and salinity (EC = 4, 6, and 8 dS m^{-1}) conditions. Salt treatments were applied once symbiosis was well established (i.e. 15 days after sowing [DAS]) and continued until the last sampling stage (i.e. 70 DAS). The experiments were terminated 70 DAS and the plants were analyzed 40 and 70 DAS. Salt stress decreased the relative water content (RWC), membrane stability index (MSI), leaf chlorophyll (CHL), plant biomass, and grain yield, and increased total soluble sugars in both cultivars at both stages (40 and 70 DAS). Salinity-induced declines in RWC, MSI, CHL, biomass, and grain yield were significantly greater in desi DCP 92-3 than in Kabuli CSG 9651. DCP 92-3 also had higher accumulation of Na^+ in the roots as well its translocation into shoots, which had a negative impact on the K^+/Na^+ ratio. Results indicate that the salinity tolerance of kabuli CSG 9651, as manifested by less of a decrease in biomass and grain yield, was associated with higher membrane permeability, osmolyte concentration, and potassium content, and lower sodium content, as compared to salt-sensitive desi DCP 92-3. It is apparent that the salt-tolerant cultivar had better protection against salt-induced stress as a result of the cumulative action of various physiological and biochemical processes.

Keywords: Cicer arietinum, cultivars, membrane stability index, osmolytes, relative water content

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