Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis alleviates detrimental effects of saline reclaimed water in lettuce plants

23 October 2015

Abstract

The present study evaluated the effects of inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF;Glomus iranicum var. tenuihypharum sp. nova) on the physiological performance and production of lettuce plants grown under greenhouse conditions and supplied with reclaimed water (RW; urban-treated wastewater with high electrical conductivity; 4.19 dS m−1). Four treatments, fresh water, fresh water plus AMF inoculation, RW and RW plus AMF inoculation, were applied and their effects, over time, analyzed. Root mycorrhizal colonization, plant biomass, leaf-ion content, stomatal conductance and net photosynthesis were assessed. Overall, our results highlight the significance of the AMF in alleviation of salt stress and their beneficial effects on plant growth and productivity. Inoculated plants increased the ability to acquire N, Ca, and K from both non-saline and saline media. Moreover, mycorrhization significantly reduced Na plant uptake. Under RW conditions, inoculated plants also showed a better performance of physiological parameters such as net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and water-use efficiency than non-mycorrhizal plants. Additionally, the high concentration of nutrients already dissolved in reclaimed water suggested that adjustments in the calculation of the fertigation should be conducted by farmers. Finally, this experiment has proved that mycorrhization could be a suitable way to induce salt stress resistance in iceberg lettuce crops as plants supplied with reclaimed water satisfied minimum legal commercial size thresholds. Moreover, the maximum values of Escherichia coli in the reclaimed water were close to but never exceeded the international thresholds established (Spanish Royal Decree 1620/2007; Italian Decree, 2003) and hence lettuces were apt for sale.


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