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Open AccessArticle

Interspecific Variations in the Growth, Water Relations and Photosynthetic Responses of Switchgrass Genotypes to Salinity Targets Salt Exclusion for Maximising Bioenergy Production

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UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
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UCD Earth Institute, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
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Departamento Ciencias de la Tierra y del Medio Ambiente, Facultad de Ciencias, University of Alicante, Ctra. San Vicente del Raspeig, s/n. Apdo. Correos 99, 03080 Alicante, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2019, 9(9), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9090205
Received: 26 July 2019 / Revised: 6 September 2019 / Accepted: 13 September 2019 / Published: 18 September 2019
The expansion in the cultivation of bioenergy crops to saline lands is of importance for ensuring food security as long as high productivity is maintained. The potential of switchgrass to grow under saline conditions was examined in three genotypes from a early seedling growth to full maturity at 50, 100, 200 and 300 mM of sodium chloride (NaCl). The carbon assimilation rates were generally lower and correlated to stomatal closure in plants exposed to salinity in all the tested genotypes. Based on the results of ion concentrations in different parts of the plant, switchgrass genotypes differed in their responses to NaCl. The Alamo genotype excluded salt from the roots, whereas Trailblazer and Kanlow accumulated it in the root, stem and leaf tissues. The increased leaf salt concentration was accompanied by a higher proline concentration in the 200 and 300 mM NaCl treatments toward the end of the experiment. Overall, Alamo showed the highest yields at all salinity levels, indicating that excluding salt from the roots may result in a better performance in terms of biomass production. The accumulation of salt observed in Kanlow and Trailblazer resulted in lower yields, even when other mechanisms, such as the production of salt glands, were observed, especially in Kanlow. These results suggest that the Alamo genotype has the ability to maintain high yields under saline conditions and that this characteristic could be further exploited for maximizing bioenergy production under saline conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: bioenergy crop; cation balance; CO2 assimilation; salt stress; Panicum virgatum bioenergy crop; cation balance; CO2 assimilation; salt stress; Panicum virgatum
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Cordero, Á.; Garmendia, I.; Osborne, B.A. Interspecific Variations in the Growth, Water Relations and Photosynthetic Responses of Switchgrass Genotypes to Salinity Targets Salt Exclusion for Maximising Bioenergy Production. Agriculture 2019, 9, 205.

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