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Tolerance of Mediterranean seagrasses (Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa) to hypersaline stress: water relations and osmolyte concentrations
Sandoval-Gil, J.M.; Marín-Guirao, L.; Ruiz, J.M. (2012). Tolerance of Mediterranean seagrasses (Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa) to hypersaline stress: water relations and osmolyte concentrations. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 159(5): 1129-1141.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Sandoval-Gil, J.M.
  • Marín-Guirao, L.
  • Ruiz, J.M.

    The present study examines for the first time the effects of increased salinity on water relations and osmolyte (carbohydrates and amino acids) concentrations in two Mediterranean seagrass species, Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa, which are adapted to growth in environments with contrasting salinity and have a known differential sensitivity to alterations in ambient salinity. The specific aim was to obtain insights into their respective capacities to cope with natural or anthropogenically induced (e.g. desalination plants) hypersaline stress and its ecological implications. To this end, large plant fragments of both seagrass species were maintained for 47 days in a laboratory mesocosm system under ambient salinity (37 psu; control) and three chronic hypersaline conditions (39, 41 and 43 psu). Analyses of leaf-tissue osmolality indicated that both species followed a dehydration avoidance strategy, decreasing their leaf water potential (?w) as the external salinity increased, but using different physiological mechanisms: whereas P. oceanica leaves exhibited a reduction in osmotic potential (?p), C. nodosa leaves maintained osmotic stability through a decrease in turgor pressure (?p) probably mediated through cell-hardening processes. Accordingly, the concentrations of soluble sugars and some amino acids (mainly Pro and Gly) suggested the activation of osmoregulatory processes in P. oceanica leaves, but not in C. nodosa leaves. Osmotic adjustments probably interfered with leaf growth and shoot survival of P. oceanica under hypersaline stress, whereas C. nodosa showed a more efficient physiological capacity to maintain plant performance under the same experimental conditions. These results are consistent with the more euryhaline ecological behaviour of C. nodosa and contribute to understanding the high vulnerability shown by P. oceanica to even mild increments in seawater salinity.

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