The supply of high-quality water has become increasingly limited in many areas of the world, especially in arid and semiarid regions. With a rapid increase in the urban population, the intense competition for high-quality water among agriculture, industry, and recreational users has promoted the use of alternative water sources for irrigation. These sources include recycled water, treated effluents, and saline ground (well) waters that contain relatively high levels of soluble salts. Soil salinity is already a problem in arid and semiarid areas where irrigation is practiced. Over 50% of all irrigated lands are affected by salinity, yet the water used in these lands is seldom saline (Pasternak and Malach, 1994). Because low-quality water has been or will be used for irrigation as a result of limited supply of high-quality water, soil salinization will increase in these areas.
Rose (Rosa spp.) is one of the most economically important ornamental crops in the world. Rose has been traditionally categorized as a salt-sensitive species with salt injury reported within a range of 0.5 to 3 dS·m−1 electrical conductivity (EC) depending on species, cultural medium, leaching fraction, and environmental conditions (Urban, 2003). However, other researchers reported that yield and quality of roses did not decrease when irrigated with drainage recycled water at EC of 3.5 dS·m−1, provided that an appropriate rootstock and aerated medium were used (Cabrera, 2003; Raviv et al., 1998). Although a certain amount of information on salt tolerance is available for greenhouse cut roses (Bernstein et al., 2006; Cabrera, 2003; de Vries, 2003; Fernandez Falcon et al., 1986; Hughes and Hanan, 1978; Wahome et al., 2001), little research has been conducted on garden roses.
Most garden roses are produced by grafting using the T-budding technique (Pemberton, 2003). Different rootstocks are used in various areas in the world in accordance with climatic and soil conditions. For example, R. multiflora is used in the south–central United States, Canada, and Japan (Pemberton, 2003) and is the most popular rose rootstock in Scandinavia (Stougaard, 1984), where R. ×fortuniana is used in areas with year-round temperate climate (Morrell, 1983). In the United States, R. ×fortuniana is mainly used in Florida and in the southwestern region (Martin, 2008). Rosa odorata is one of the most popular rose rootstocks for greenhouse cut flower, but is also used for garden roses (Cabrera, 2002; Singh and Chitkara, 1982, 1987).
The vigor and yield of flower production of the grafted plants are affected by rootstock selection (Pivetta et al., 2004). Wang (1992) found that R. × ‘Queen Elizabeth’ budded onto R. odorata had a much higher survival rate than when budded onto R. multiflora after several years in an alkaline soil and irrigated with moderately saline water in a hot subtropical climate. Similarly, salt tolerance of grafted or budded plants is affected by rootstock selection in many woody plants (Cid et al., 1989). The salt tolerance of ‘Bridal White’ roses was relatively high when grafted onto R. manetti and R. × ‘Natal Brial’ compared with R. odorata (i.e., R. indica ‘Major’), R. multiflora ‘Rum 9’, and R. × ‘Dr. Huey’ (Cabrera, 2003). The rootstock–scion relationship may affect the response of the grafted or budded plants to salinity. However, the relative salt tolerance of these rootstocks alone (without grafting) remains unknown. The objectives of this study were: 1) to investigate the relative salt tolerance of three rose rootstocks, R. ×fortuniana, R. multiflora, and R. odorata, by comparing the responses of growth, ion uptake, relative chlorophyll concentration, and chlorophyll fluorescence of these rose rootstocks to a range of salinity of irrigation water; and 2) to understand the general mechanism of salt tolerance.
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