This work reports on experimental evidence for the role of ion-mediated changes of xylem hydraulic conductivity in the functional response of Solanum lycopersicum L. cv. Naomi to moderate salinity levels. Measurements were performed in fully developed 12-week-old plants grown in half-strength Hoagland solution (control, C-plants) or in the same solution added with 35mM NaCl (NaCl-plants). NaCl-plants produced a significantly less but heavier leaves and fruits but had similar gas-exchange rates as control plants. Moreover, NaCl-plants showed higher vessel multiple fraction (FVM) than control plants. Xylem sap potassium and sodium concentrations were significantly higher in NaCl-plants than in control plants. When stems were perfused with 10mMNaCl or KCl, the hydraulic conductance of NaCl plants was nearly 1.5 times higher than in control plants. Accordingly, stem hydraulic conductance measured in planta was higher in NaCl- than in control plants. Our data suggest that tomato plants grown under moderate salinity upregulate xylem sap [Na+] and [K+], as well as sensitivity of xylem hydraulics to sap ionic content, thus, increasing water transport capacity.
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