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Insight into salt tolerance mechanisms of the halophyte Achras sapota: an important fruit tree for agriculture in coastal areas

Rahman, Md. Mezanur, Mostofa, Mohammad Golam, Rahman, Md. Abiar, Miah, Md. Giashuddin, Saha, Satya Ranjan, Karim, M. Abdul, Keya, Sanjida Sultana, Akter, Munny, Islam, Mohidul, Tran, Lam-Son Phan
Protoplasma 2019 v.256 no.1 pp. 181-191
biomass, calcium, chlorophyll, coasts, dose response, exudation, fruit trees, growth retardation, halophytes, leaf area, leaves, medicinal properties, minerals, osmotic stress, plant height, potassium, proline, protein content, reducing sugars, roots, salinity, salt stress, salt tolerance, seawater, sodium, solutes, stomatal conductance, water content, xylem
Sapota (Achras sapota), a fruit tree with nutritional and medicinal properties, is known to thrive in salt-affected areas. However, the underlying mechanisms that allow sapota to adapt to saline environment are yet to be explored. Here, we examined various morphological, physiological, and biochemical features of sapota under a gradient of seawater (0, 4, 8, and 12 dS m–¹) to study its adaptive responses against salinity. Our results showed that seawater-induced salinity negatively impacted on growth-related attributes, such as plant height, root length, leaf area, and dry biomass in a dose-dependent manner. This growth reduction was positively correlated with reductions in relative water content, stomatal conductance, xylem exudation rate, and chlorophyll, carbohydrate, and protein contents. However, the salt tolerance index did not decline in proportional to the increasing doses of seawater, indicating a salt tolerance capacity of sapota. Under salt stress, ion analysis revealed that Na⁺ mainly retained in roots, whereas K⁺ and Ca²⁺ were more highly accumulated in leaves than in roots, suggesting a potential mechanism in restricting transport of excessive Na⁺ to leaves to facilitate the uptake of other essential minerals. Sapota plants also maintained an improved leaf succulence with increasing levels of seawater. Furthermore, increased accumulations of proline, total amino acids, soluble sugars, and reducing sugars suggested an enhanced osmoprotective capacity of sapota to overcome salinity-induced osmotic stress. Our results demonstrate that the salt adaptation strategy of sapota is attributed to increased leaf succulence, selective transport of minerals, efficient Na⁺ retention in roots, and accumulation of compatible solutes.