Bacteria and seed dormancy, nitrogen acquisition in grass species and the cellular basis of salt tolerance in halophytes – what’s new in Annals of Botany this week.

Bacteria and seed dormancy, nitrogen acquisition in grass species and the cellular basis of salt tolerance in halophytes.

Lolium rigidum A potential role for endogenous microflora in dormancy release, cytokinin metabolism and the response to fluridone in Lolium rigidum seeds
Dormancy in annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) can be alleviated by warm stratification in the dark or by application of fluridone, an inhibitor of plant abscisic acid (ABA) biosynthesis via phytoene desaturase. However, germination and absolute ABA concentration are not strongly correlated. The aim of this study was to determine if cytokinins of both plant and bacterial origin are involved in mediating dormancy status and in the response to fluridone. Seeds lacking bacteria were no longer able to lose dormancy in the dark unless supplied with exogenous gibberellin or fluridone. It is probable that resident microflora contribute to dormancy status in L. rigidum seeds via a complex interaction between hormones of both plant and bacterial origin. This interaction needs to be taken into account in studies on endogenous seed hormones or the response of seeds to plant growth regulators.


Relationships between functional traits and inorganic nitrogen acquisition among eight contrasting European grass species
Leaf functional traits have been used as a basis to categoize plants across a range of resource-use specialization, from those that conserve available resources to those that exploit them. However, the extent to which the leaf functional traits used to define the resource-use strategies are related to root traits and are good indicators of the ability of the roots to take up nitrogen (N) are poorly known. This is an important question because interspecific differences in N uptake have been proposed as one mechanism by which species’ coexistence may be determined. This study investigated the relationships between functional traits and N uptake ability for grass species across a range of conservative to exploitative resource-use strategies. The results support the use of leaf traits as indicators of the N uptake ability across a broad range of grass species. The difficulties associated with assessing root properties are also highlighted, as root traits were only weakly correlated with leaf traits.


Sodium chloride toxicity and the cellular basis of salt tolerance in halophytes
Halophytes are the flora of saline soils. They adjust osmotically to soil salinity by accumulating ions and sequestering the vast majority of these (generally Na+ and Cl) in vacuoles, while in the cytoplasm organic solutes are accumulated to prevent adverse effects on metabolism. At high salinities, however, growth is inhibited. Possible causes are: toxicity to metabolism of Na+ and/or Cl in the cytoplasm; insufficient osmotic adjustment resulting in reduced net photosynthesis because of stomatal closure; reduced turgor for expansion growth; adverse cellular water relations if ions build up in the apoplast (cell walls) of leaves; diversion of energy needed to maintain solute homeostasis; sub-optimal levels of K+ (or other mineral nutrients) required for maintaining enzyme activities; possible damage from reactive oxygen species; or changes in hormonal concentrations. This review discusses the evidence for Na+ and Cl toxicity and the concept of tissue tolerance in relation to halophytes.