Physiological changes of pepper accessions in response to salinity and water stress

Lidia López-Serrano, Consuelo Penella, Alberto San Bautista, Salvador López-Galarza, Angeles Calatayud


New sources of water stress and salinity tolerances are needed for crops grown in marginal lands. Pepper is considered one of the most important crops in the world. Many varieties belong to the genus Capsicum spp., and display wide variability in tolerance/sensitivity terms in response to drought and salinity stress. The objective was to screen seven salt/drought-tolerant pepper accessions to breed new cultivars that could overcome abiotic stresses, or be used as new crops in land with water and salinity stress. Fast and effective physiological traits were measured to achieve the objective. The present study showed wide variability of the seven pepper accessions in response to both stresses. Photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and transpiration reduced mainly under salinity due to stomatal and non-stomatal (Na+ accumulation) constraints and, to a lesser extent, in the accessions grown under water stress. A positive relationship between CO2 fixation and fresh weight generation was observed for both stresses. Decreases in Ys and YW and increased proline were observed only when accessions were grown under salinity. However, these factors were not enough to alleviate salt effects and an inverse relation was noted between plant salt tolerance and proline accumulation. Under water stress, A31 was the least affected and A34 showed the best tolerance to salinity in terms of photosynthesis and biomass.


osmotic potential; photosynthesis; proline; salinity ions; water potential

Full Text:



Abbad H, El Jaafari S, Bort J, Araus JL, 2004. Comparison of flag leaf and ear photosynthesis with biomass and grain yield of durum wheat under various water conditions and genotypes. Agronomie 24: 19-28.

Abideen Z, Koyro HW, Huchzermeyer B, Ahmed, MZ, Gul B, Khan MA, 2014. Moderate salinity stimulates growth and photosynthesis of Phragmites karka by water relations and tissue specific ion regulation. Environ Exp Bot 105: 70-76.

Aktas H, Abak K, Cakmak I, 2006. Genotypic variation in the response of pepper to salinity. Sci Hortic 110: 260-266.

Allen RG, Pereira RS, Raes D, Smith M, 1998. Crop evapotranspiration. In: Guidelines for computing crop water requirements - FAO Irrig Drain paper 56. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

Alvino A, Centritto M, Lorenzi F, 1994. Photosynthesis response of sunlit and shade pepper (Capsicum annuum) leaves at different positions in the canopy under two water regimes. Aust J Plant Physiol 21: 377-391.

Bates LS, Waldren RP, Teare JD, 1973. Rapid determination of free proline for water stress studies. Plant Soil 39: 205-207.

Bojórquez-Quintal E, Velarde-Buendía A, Ku-González Á, Carillo-Pech M, Ortega-Camacho D, Echevaría-Machado I, Pottosin I, Martínez-Estévez M, 2014. Mechanisms of salt tolerance in habanero pepper plants (Capsicum chinense Jacq.): Proline accumulation, ions dynamics and sodium root-shoot partition and compartmentation. Front Plant Sci 5: article 605 DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00605.

Bosland PW, Votava EJ, 2000. Peppers: vegetable and spice capsicums. CAB ebooks

Bray EA, Bailey-Serres J, Weretilnyk E, 2000. Response to abiotic stress. In: Biochemistry and molecular biology of plants; Gruissem W, Buchannan B, Jones R (eds.). pp: 1158-1249. Am Soc Plant Physiol, Rockville, MD, USA.

Callister AN, Arndt SK, Adams MA, 2006. Comparison of four methods for measuring osmotic potential of tree leaves. Physiol Plant 127: 383-392.

Chartzoulakis K, Klapaki G, 2000. Response of two greenhouse pepper hybrids to NaCl salinity during different growth stages. Sci Hortic 86: 247-260.

Chaves MM, Pereira JS, Maroco J, Rodrigues ML, Ricardo CPP, Osorio ML, Carvalho I, Faria T, Pinheiro C, 2002. How plants cope with water stress in the field. Photosynthesis and growth. Ann Bot 89: 907-916.

Chaves MM, Maroco JP, Pereira JS, 2003. Understanding plant responses to drought — From genes to the whole plant. Funct Plant Biol 30: 239-264.

Chaves MM, Flexas J, Pinheiro C, 2009. Photosynthesis under drought and salt stress: regulation mechanisms from whole plant to cell. Ann Bot 103: 551-560.

Chen Z, Cuin TA, Zhou M, Twomey A, Naidu BP, Shabala S, 2007. Compatible solute accumulation and stress-mitigating effects in barley genotypes contrasting in their salt tolerance. J Exp Bot 58: 4245-4255.

Colmer TD, Munns R, Flowers TJ, 2005. Improving salt tolerance of wheat and barley: future prospects. Aust J Exp Agric 45: 1425-1443.

Cowan IR, Farquhar, G, 1977. Stomatal functioning in relation to leaf metabolism and environment. In: Integration of activity in the higher plants; Jennings DH (ed.). pp: 470-505. University Press, Cambrigde.

Da Silva EN, Ribeiro RV, Ferreira-Silva SL, Viégas RA, Silveira JAG, 2011. Salt stress induced damages on the photosynthesis of physic nut young plants. Sci Agric 68: 62-68.

De Oliveira AB, Mendes NL, Gomes-Filho E, 2013. Comparison between the water and salt stress efects on plant growth and development. In: Responses of organisms to water stress; Akinci S (ed.). pp. 70-94. Intech.

De Pascale S, Ruggiero C, Barbieri G, 2003. Physiological responses of pepper to salinity and drought. J Am Sociol Hortic Sci 128: 48-54.

Del Amor FM, Cuadra-Crespo P, Walker DJ, Cámara JM, Madrid R, 2010. Effect of foliar application of antitranspirant on photosynthesis and water relations of pepper plants under different levels of CO2 and water stress. J Plant Physiol 167: 1232-1238.

Delfine S, Tognetti R, Loreto F, Alvino A, 2002. Physiological and growth responses to water stress in field-grown bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.). J Hortic Sci Biotechnol 77: 697-704.

Filippou P, Bouchagier P, Skotti E, Fotopoulos V, 2014. Proline and reactive oxygen/nitrogen species metabolism is involved in the tolerant response of the invasive plant species Ailanthus altissima to drought and salinity. Environ Exp Bot 97: 1-10.

Fischer KS, Wood G, 1981. Breeding and selection for drought tolerance in tropical maize. Proc. Symp. on principles and methods in crop improvement for drought resistance with emphasis on rice, IRRI, Philippines.

Flexas J, Bota J, Loreto F, Cornic G, Sharkey TD, 2004. Diffusive and metabolic limitations to photosynthesis under drought and salinity in C(3) plants. Plant Biol 6: 269-279.

Gill SS, Tuteja N, 2010. Reactive oxygen species and antioxidant machinery in abiotic stress tolerance in crop plants. Plant Physiol Biochem 48: 909-930.

Hasanuzzaman M, Nahar K, Fujita M, 2013. Plant response to salt stress and role of exogenous protectants to mitigate salt-induced damages: In: Ecophysiology and responses of plants under salt stress; Ahmad P, Azooz MM, Prasad MNV (eds.). pp: 25-87. Springer, NY.

Hassine AB, Ghanem ME, Bouzid S, Lutts S, 2008. An inland and a coastal population of the Mediterranean xero-halophyte species Atriplex halimus L. differ in their ability to accumulate proline and glycinebetaine in response to salinity and water stress. J Exp Bot 59: 1315-1326.

Huang Y, Bie Z, He S, Hua B, Zhen A, Liu Z, 2010. Improving cucumber tolerance to major nutrients induced salinity by grafting onto Cucurbita ficifolia. Environ Exp Bot 69: 32-38.

Lutts S, Guerrier G, 1995. Peroxidase activities of two rice cultivars differing in salinity tolerance as affected by proline and NaCl. Biol Plant 37: 577-586.

Maynard DN, Hochmuth GJ, 2007. Knott's handbook for vegetable growers. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, NY.

Misra AN, Biswal AK, Misra M, 2002. Physiological, biochemical and molecular aspects of water stress response in plants, and the biotechnological applications. Proc Natl Acad Sci, India LXXII: 115-134.

Morgan J, 1992. Osmotic components and properties associated with genotypic differences in osmoregulation in wheat. Aust J Plant Physiol 19: 67-76.

Munns R, 2002. Comparative physiology of salt and water stress. Plant Cell Environ 25: 239-250.

Munns R, James RA, 2003. Screening methods for salinity tolerance: A case study with tetraploid wheat. Plant Soil 253: 201-218.

Munns R, Brady C, Barlow E, 1979. Solute accumulation in the apex and leaves of wheat during water stress. Aust J Plant Physiol 6: 379-389.

Munns R, Tester M, 2008. Mechanisms of salinity tolerance. Annu Rev Plant Biol 59: 651-681.

Navarro JM, Garrido C, Martínez V, Carvajal M, 2003. Water relations and xylem transport of nutrients in pepper plants grown under two different salts stress regimes. Plant Growth Regul 41: 237-245.

Nio SA, Cawthray GR, Wade LJ, Colmer TD, 2011. Pattern of solutes accumulated during leaf osmotic adjustment as related to duration of water deficit for wheat at the reproductive stage. Plant Physiol Biochem 49: 1126-1137.

Noreen Z, Ashraf M, Akram NA, 2010. Salt-induced regulation of some key antioxidant enzymes and physio-biochemical phenomena in five diverse cultivars of turnip (Brassica rapa L.). J Agron Crop Sci 196: 273-285 doi: 10.1111/j.1439-037X.2010.00420.x

Patade VY, Bhargava S, Suprasanna P, 2012. Halopriming mediated salt and iso-osmotic PEG stress tolerance and, gene expression profiling in sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.). Mol Biol Rep 39: 9563-9572.

Patakas A, Nikolaou N, Zioziou E, Radoglou K, Noitsakis B, 2002. The role of organic solute and ion accumulation in osmotic adjustment in drought-stressed grapevines. Plant Sci. 163: 361-367.

Penella C, Nebauer SG, Lopéz-Galarza S, San Bautista A, Gorbe E, Calatayud A, 2013. Evaluation for salt stress tolerance of pepper genotypes to be used as rootstocks. J Food Agric Environ 11: 1101-1107.

Penella C, Nebauer SG, San Bautista A, López-Galarza, S, Calatayud, A, 2014a. Rootstock alleviates PEG-induced water stress in grafted pepper seedlings: Physiological responses. J Plant Physiol 171: 842-851.

Penella C, Nebauer SG, López-Galarza S, Bautista AS, Rodriguez-Burruezo A, Calatayud A, 2014b. Evaluation of some pepper genotypes as rootstocks in water stress conditions. Hort Sci 41: 192-200.

Penella C, Nebauer SG, Quiñones A, San Bautista A, López-Galarza S, Calatayud A, 2015. Some rootstocks improve pepper tolerance to mild salinity through ionic regulation. Plant Sci 230: 12-22.

Penella C, Landi M, Guidi L, Nebauer SG, Pellegrini E, San Bautista A, Remorini D, Nali C, López-Galarza S, Calatayud A, 2016. Salt-tolerant rootstock increases yield of pepper under salinity through maintenance of photosynthetic performance and sinks strength. J Plant Physiol 193: 1-11.

Praxedes SC, De Lacerda CF, DaMatta FM, Prisco JT, Gomes-Filho E, 2010. Salt tolerance is associated with differences in ion accumulation, biomass allocation and photosynthesis in Cowpea cultivars. J Agron Crop Sci 196: 193-204.

Rouphael Y, Cardarelli M, Rea E, Colla G, 2012. Improving melon and cucumber photosynthetic activity, mineral composition, and growth performance under salinity stress by grafting onto Cucurbita hybrid rootstocks. Photosynthetica 50: 180-182.

Saleem M, Ashraf M, Akram NA, 2011. Salt (NaCl) induced modulation in some key physio-biochemical attributes in okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.). J Agron Crop Sci 197: 202-213.

Smirnoff N, Cumbes QJ, 1989. Hydroxyl radical scavenging activity of compatible solutes. Phytochemistry 28: 1057-1060.

Szabados L, Savouré A, 2010. Proline: a multifunctional amino acid. Trends Plant Sci 15: 89-97.

Tanjii KK, Kielen NC, 2002. Agricultural drainage water management in arid and semi-arid areas. FAO, Roma.

Yadollahi A, Arzani K, Ebadi A, Wirthensohn M, Karimi S, 2011. The response of different almond genotypes to moderate and sever water stress in order to screen fro drought tolerance. Sci Horti 129: 403-413.

Yoshiba Y, Kiyosue T, Nakashima K, Yamaguchi-Shinozaki K, Shinozaki K, 1997. Regulation of levels of proline as an osmolyte in plants under water stress. Plant Cell Physiol 38: 1095-102.

DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2017153-11147