Effects of Salt and Water Stress on Plant Growth and on Accumulation of Osmolytes and Antioxidant Compounds in Cherry Tomato
The effects of salt and water stress on growth and several stress markers were investigated in cherry tomato plants. Some growth parameters (stem length and number of leaves) and chlorophyll contents were determined every third day during plant growth, and leaf material was collected after 25 and 33 days of treatment. Both stresses inhibited plant growth; chlorophyll levels, however, decreased only in response to high NaCl concentrations. Proline contents largely increased in leaves of stressed plants, reaching levels high enough to play a major role in cellular osmotic adjustment. Despite reports indicating that tomato does not synthesize glycine betaine, the stress-induced accumulation of this osmolyte was detected in cherry tomato, albeit at lower concentration than that of proline. Therefore, it appears that the plants are able to synthesise glycine betaine as a secondary osmolyte under strong stress conditions. Total sugars levels, on the contrary, decreased in stress-treated plants. Both stress treatments caused secondary oxidative stress in the plants, as indicated by a significant increase in malondialdehyde (MDA) contents. Water stress led to an increase in total phenolics and flavonoid contents and a reduction of carotenoid levels in the leaves; flavonoids also increased under high salinity conditions.
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