Leaf gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence, water relations, and mineral nutrient relations responses of Annona squamosa seedlings to mild salinity were studied in sand culture in five experiments during 1990, 1991, and 1993. Trees were irrigated with a complete nutrient solution (control) or with this solution amended to 3 or 6 dS·m-1 with sea salt. Inhibition of net CO2 assimilation, stomatal conductance of CO2, and transpiration was apparent within 2 weeks of initiating salinity treatments, and gas exchange continued to decline until day 30 to 35. The diurnal pattern of leaf gas exchange was not altered by increased salinity. Salinity reduced CO2, light energy, and water-use efficiencies. Salinity sometimes reduced the ratio of variable to maximum fluorescence below that of the control, and this response was highly dependent on the ambient light conditions that preceded the measurements. Dark respiration was unaffected by salinity stress. Root zone salinity of 3 dS·m-1 administered for 52 days did not influence foliar sodium concentration or the ratio of sodium to potassium, but increased chloride concentration and decreased nitrogen concentration. The sodium response indicated that some form of exclusion or compartmentation occurred. Salinity reduced osmotic potential of root tissue but did not influence foliar osmotic or predawn xylem potential. These results indicate that A. squamosa is sensitive to salinity stress, and that the responses to salinity are consistent with other salt-sensitive woody perennial species.
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