Salt Tolerance of Chenopodium quinoa Willd, Grains of the Andes Influence of Salinity on Biomass Production, Yield, Composition of Reserves in the Seeds, Water and Solute Relations

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H. Lieth et al. (eds.), Mangroves and Halophytes
Restoration and Utilisation, 133–145. © Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2008

This study has been carried out to investigate the protection and (pre-) adjustment of seeds and embryos under a highly saline environment. We have chosen Chenopodium quinoa because it is a common  crop for the population in the Andes, but according to our experiments a promising crop for the use on saline soils. Hardly little is known about salt-induced changes of the seed composition and viability of quinoa and the uptake and distribution of potentially toxic salts. We studied therefore the mechanisms responsible for seed protection, the yield, the viability, the seed structure and the content and localization of food reserves and nutrients.

 In contrast to glycophytes, Chenopodium quinoa was able to complete its life cycle and produced seeds even at seawater salinity. However, the growth furthermore, the yield, number of seeds, weight and seed dry matter per plant were significantly reduced in the presence of salinity. The content of proteins (as well as total N) increased significantly in the seeds whereas the content of total carbohydrates (as well as total C) decreased remarkably leading to the overall picture of a decreased C/N ratio.

At high salinity the passage of NaCl into the seed was hindered. There seems to be a correlation between these effects, the salinity resistance of the plant and a possible preadjustment to saline conditions of the produced seed. However, further studies are essentially needed and it is advisable to study more intense the influence of salinity on the regulation of grain-filling, usability, genomics, gene expression and enzymology.

Equipped with these informations it is likely that plant breeder could develop targeted research projects and produce highly salt resistant, fertile and productive crops. Because of the presentation of this paper on the seminar with Venezuelan colleagues we have compared our results from the experiments with quinoa with findings from other crops.

 Although this enlarges the manuscript substantially it will help our colleagues to compare physiological function of quinoa with those of other plants they know from the references.

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