Journal of Stress Physiology & Biochemistry, Vol. 9 No. 3 2013, pp. 299-317 ISSN 1997-0838
Original Text Copyright (cc) 2013 by  Bennani

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Trifolium isthmocarpum Brot, a salt-tolerant wild leguminous forage crop in salt-affected soils

Kawtar Bennani

Biology Department, Mohammed V University, Faculty of Sciences, B.P. 1014 RP, 10 000, Rabat, Morocco


Received  April  8
, 2013

Plant scientists are investigating the potential of previously unexploited legume species where environmental and biological stresses constrain the use of more conventional forage crops or where these species are better suited to the needs of sustainable agriculture. Trifolium isthmocarpum Brot., Moroccan clover, occurs as a weed in different habitats in Morocco. It grows in moderately saline areas, where traditional forage legumes cannot be cultivated; however, it has not been widely studied despite its good palatability. The salt tolerance was studied between natural field conditions and glasshouse. The extensive field studies have recorded the species in many different habitats ranging from healthy agricultural lands to abandoned saline areas. The plants maintained high nodulation capacity (ranging between 60% and 97%) and nitrogenase activities (average 2.04 Ámol C2H4 plant-1 h-1) in different habitats. Shoot systems of plants collected from salt-affected soils exhibited higher concentrations of Na+ and Cl- than those collected from healthy soils. Greenhouse experiments showed that germination percentage and vigor value of the studied species was not significantly (P > 0.05) affected at 160 mM NaCl, and that 25% of the germination ability was maintained when growing on substrats containing 240 mM NaCl. The growth rate of seedlings was not signicantly affected by 160 mM NaCl but was reduced by 38% under 240 mM NaCl. Leaf succulence and indices of leaf water status did not differ among the salt treatments, whereas relative water content was reduced by only 8% and water content at saturation increased by about 12% at high salt concentrations in the growing medium. This study suggest recommending the cultivation of T. isthmocarpum in salt-affected soils, which are widespread and pose a problem for the farmers of Morocco and other countries in the world’s arid belt.

Key words:     NaCl stress, Pasture crop, Salt-affected land, Trifolium isthmocarpum Brot, Wild Legumes

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