Plant Soil (2012) 357:117–129
Aims This study aimed to assess varietal differences of quinoa’s tolerance to salinity and to investigate physiological mechanisms conferring these differences. Methods Production of biomass in fourteen varieties grown under saline conditions was analysed in a pot experiment. For two contrasting varieties, the Danish variety Titicaca and the Bolivian variety Utusaya gas exchange, chlorophyll content index (CCI), fluorescence and ion relations were studied.
Results Responses to salinity differed greatly among the varieties; least affected were two varieties from the Bolivian altiplano and a variety from Peru. Titicaca and Utusaya both had substantially increased K+ concentrations in the leaf sap. But, Utusaya was much more efficient in restricting xylem Na+ loading. Xylem Na+ and K+ loading were found to be uncoupled. Utusaya maintained a relatively high stomatal conductance resulting in an only 25% NaCl-induced reduction in net CO2 assimilation compared to a 67% reduction in salt treated Titicaca plants. Maximum photochemical efficiency of PSII was not affected by salinity.
Conclusion In addition to maintaining high gas exchange, tolerant varieties better control xylemNa+ loading. To what extent this control is related to radial root Na+ uptake or to the activity of Na+/H+-exchangers at the xylem parenchyma boundary remains to be studied.