Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

Plant Responses to Salinity Under Elevated Atmospheric Concentrations of CO2

MC Ball and R Munns

Australian Journal of Botany 40(5) 515 - 525
Published: 1992


This review explores effects of elevated CO2 concentrations on growth in relation to water use and salt balance of halophytic and non-halophytic species. Under saline conditions, the uptake and distribution of sodium and chloride must be regulated to protect sensitive metabolic sites from salt toxicity. Salt-tolerant species exclude most of the salt from the transpiration stream, but the salt flux from a highly saline soil is still considerable. To maintain internal ion concentrations within physiologically acceptable levels, the salt influx to leaves must match the capacities of leaves for salt storage and/or salt export by either retranslocation or secretion from glands. Hence the balance between carbon gain and the expenditure of water in association with salt uptake is critical to leaf longevity under saline conditions. Indeed, one of the striking features of halophytic vegetation, such as mangroves, is the maintenance of high water use efficiencies coupled with relatively low rates of water loss and growth. These low evaporation rates are further reduced under elevated CO2 conditions. This, with increased growth, leads to even higher water use efficiency. Leaves of plants grown under elevated CO2 conditions might be expected to contain lower salt concentrations than those grown under ambient CO2 if salt uptake is coupled with water uptake. However, salt concentrations in shoot tissues are similar in plants grown under ambient and elevated CO2 conditions despite major differences in water use efficiency. This phenomenon occurs in C3 halophytes and in both C3 and C2 non-halophytes. These results imply shoot/root communication in regulation of the salt balance to adjust to environmental factors affecting the availability of water and ions at the roots (salinity) and those affecting carbon gain in relation to water loss at the leaves (atmospheric concentrations of water vapour and carbon dioxide).

© CSIRO 1992

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