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Intraspecific variation in elemental accumulation and its association with salt tolerance in Paspalum vaginatum

By David M. Goad, Elizabeth A. Kellogg, Ivan Baxter, Kenneth M. Olsen

Posted 05 Mar 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.03.04.433795

Most plant species, including most crops, perform poorly in salt-affected soils because high sodium levels are cytotoxic and can disrupt uptake of water and important nutrients. Halophytes are species that have evolved adaptations to overcome these challenges and may be a useful source of knowledge for salt tolerance mechanisms and genes that may be transferable to crop species. The salt content of saline habitats can vary dramatically by location, providing ample opportunity for different populations of halophytic species to adapt to their local salt concentrations; however, the extent of this variation, and the physiology and polymorphisms that drive it, remain poorly understood. Differential accumulation of inorganic elements between genotypes or populations may play an important role in local salinity adaptation. To test this, we investigated the relationships between population structure, tissue ion concentrations (i.e., ionomic profiles) and salt tolerance in 17 "fine-textured" genotypes of the halophytic turfgrass seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum Swartz). A high-throughput ionomics pipeline was used to quantify the shoot concentration of 18 inorganic elements across three salinity treatments. We found a significant relationship between population structure and ion accumulation, with strong correlations between principal components derived from genetic and ionomic data. Additionally, genotypes with higher salt tolerance accumulated more K and Fe and less Ca than less tolerant genotypes. Together these results indicate that differences in ion accumulation between P. vaginatum populations may reflect locally adapted salt stress responses.

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