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  • 1 Cereal Research Centre Agricultural Research Council of Italy S.S. 16 Km 675-71122 Foggia Italy
  • 2 Genomic Research Centre Agricultural Research Council of Italy via S. Protaso, 302 29017 Fiorenzuola d’Arda, PC Italy
  • 3 Foggia University Department of Agro-environmental Science, Chemistry and Crop Protection and BIOAGROMED Interdipartimental Centre, Agricultural Faculty Via Napoli, 25 71122 Foggia Italy
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Durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. Desf.) is a species well adapted to the Mediterranean environments where salt stress due to seawater intrusion is an increasing problem. The purpose of this study was to deep insight into the relationships among physiological, productive and qualitative aspects under salinity, being these aspects still poorly investigated in durum wheat. In 2004–2005 crop season 10 durum wheat genotypes of different origin and breeding time were grown in a naturally-lit polycarbonate greenhouse under three irrigation water salinity levels (0.9, 6.0 and 12.0 dS m−1). A complete randomized block design with three replications was adopted. The osmotic damage was evaluated by estimating relative water content (RWC), leaf water potential (Φw) and osmotic potential at full turgor (Φπ100). The toxic damage to the plants was evaluated by measuring Na+ accumulation and Na+/K+ ratio in the leaves. Differences in yield performance were evaluated by assessing the main yield components and some qualitative traits, carotenoid pigment and protein content and Sedimentation test in sodium dodecyl sulphate. A significant effect of genotype, salt stress and of their interaction on all the characters was observed. Durum wheat genotypes generally showed a moderate tolerance to salt stress. The genotype performance was dependent on stress level and RWC maintenance. Osmotic adjustment and low sodium accumulation were found to play a key role in salt tolerance. An improvement in the grain quality characters on increasing salinity level, consistently with a yield decrease, was observed.

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