Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology

Stomatal conductance as a screen for osmotic stress tolerance in durum wheat growing in saline soil

Afrasyab Rahnama A B C , Richard A. James A D , Kazem Poustini B and Rana Munns A

A CSIRO Plant Industry, GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Department of Agronomy and Plant Breeding, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran.

C Department of Agronomy and Plant Breeding, Shahid Chamran University, Ahvaz, Iran.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Functional Plant Biology 37(3) 255-263
Submitted: 10 June 2009  Accepted: 22 November 2009   Published: 25 February 2010


The change in stomatal conductance measured soon after durum wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. durum Desf.) was exposed to salinity was verified as an indicator of osmotic stress tolerance. It was a reliable and useful screening technique for identifying genotypic variation. The minimum NaCl treatment needed to obtain a significant stomatal response was 50 mM, but 150 mM was needed to obtain significant differences between genotypes. The response to the NaCl was osmotic rather than Na+-specific. Stomatal conductance responded similarly to iso-osmotic concentrations of KCl and NaCl, both in the speed and extent of closure, and in the difference between genotypes. The new reduced rate of stomatal conductance in response to addition of 50 mM NaCl or KCl occurred within 45 min, and was independent of the concentration of Na+ in leaves. The difference between genotypes was long-lasting, translating into differences in shoot biomass and tiller number after a month. These results indicate that the relative size of the change in stomatal conductance when the salinity is introduced could be a means of screening for osmotic stress tolerance in wheat and other cereals.

Additional keywords: chloride, potassium, salt, sodium.


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