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Clyde Wilson, Robert A. Clark and Monica A. Madore

We examined the effect of salt stress on sugar transport across the plasma membrane of source leaf tissue. We initiated the present study by investigating the effect of salt stress on the sugar transport into mature leaf tissue by measuring sucrose influx into leaf discs. In order to determine if there is a common response to salt stress, we selected two species which have been described as moderately salt-sensitive, faba bean and tomato. We found these two plants exhibit different responses to salinity with regard to sugar transport across the plasmalemma. Whereas salinity decreased sucrose uptake into leaf discs of tomato, it had little effect on faba bean. Also, the inhibitory effect of salinity in tomato was not just limited to freshly cut discs but was observed in aged discs as well. We isolated the plasma membrane from tomato and faba bean using the aqueous two-phase technique and found that although plasma-membrane vesicles obtained from faba bean were able to maintain an acetate gradient, vesicles from tomato were not, thereby eliminating any comparative study on pH-dependent sugar uptake. Studies on passive uptake into these vesicles indicate that the passive uptake in tomato may be different than faba bean.

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Clyde Wilson, Xuan Liu, Scott M. Lesch and Donald L. Suarez

Over the last several years, there has been increasing interest in amending the soil using cover crops, especially in desert agriculture. One cover crop of interest in the desert Coachella Valley of California is cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.]. Cowpea is particularly useful in that as an excellent cover crop, fixing abundant amounts of nitrogen which can reduce fertilizer costs. However, soil salinity problems are of increasing concern in the Coachella Valley of California where the Colorado River water is a major source of irrigation water. Unfortunately, little information is available on the response of cowpea growth to salt stress. Thus, we investigated the growth response of 12 major cowpea cultivars (`CB5', `CB27', `CB46', `IT89KD-288', `IT93K-503-1', `Iron Clay', `Speckled Purple Hall', `UCR 134', `UCR 671', `UCR 730', `8517', and `7964') to increasing salinity levels. The experiment was set up as a standard Split Plot design. Seven salinity levels ranging from 2.6 to 20.1 dS·m–1 were constructed, based on Colorado River water salt composition, to have NaCl, CaCl2 and MgSO4 as the salinization salts. The osmotic potential ranged from –0.075 to –0.82 MPa. Salt stress began 7 days after planting by adding the salts into irrigating nutrient solution and ended after 5 consecutive days. The plants were harvested during flowering period for biomass measurement (53 days after planting). Data analysis using SAS analysis of variance indicated that the salinity in the range between 2.6 and 20.1 dS·m–1 significantly reduced leaf area, leaf dry weight, stem dry weight and root dry weight (P ≤ 0.05). We applied the data to a salt-tolerance model, log(Y) = a1 + a2X + a3X2, where Y represents biomass, a1, a2 and a3 are empirical constants, and X represents salinity, and found that the model accounted for 99%, 97%, 96%, 99%, and 96% of salt effect for cowpea shoot, leaf area, leaf dry weight, stem dry weight and root dry weight, respectively. We also found significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) of each biomass parameter among the 12 cultivars and obtained different sets of the empirical constants to quantitatively describe the response of each biomass parameter to salinity for individual cowpea cultivars. Since a significant salt × cultivar interaction effect (P ≤ 0.05) was found on leaf area and leaf dry weight, we concluded that salt tolerance differences exist among the tested cultivars.

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Aref A. Abdul-Baki, Clyde Wilson, George E. Brown Jr., Lidia M. Carrera, Sam Aslan, Sam Cobb and Tim Burke

The mineral concentration of bearing `Mejhool' date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) trees was investigated with the objective of identifying the cause of browning and dieback of distal parts of the fruit-bearing strands. Tissue analyses of leaves, fruits, healthy and dead portions of fruit-bearing strands indicated that tissue browning and dieback appeared to be associated with a high concentration of certain mineral elements. A comparison of mineral concentration between healthy and dead tissue of the fruit-bearing strands showed no significant increase in K, Cu, B, Zn, and Na, but very high increases in the concentrations of P, Ca, Mg, S, Mn, and Fe. The levels of P, Ca, Mg, S, Mn, and Fe in the distal part of the fruit-bearing strand over a 3-year average were 5, 18, 12, 3, 11, and 2 times, respectively, higher than those in the healthy, proximal part of the strand. Mineral concentrations of leaves and mature fruits were determined for comparison with those in fruit-bearing strands.