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Journal of Arid Land  2012, Vol. 4 Issue (4): 469-478    DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2012.00469
Research Articles     
Water adaptive traits of deep-rooted C3 halophyte (Karelinia caspica (Pall.) Less.) and shallow-rooted C4 halophyte (Atriplex tatarica L.) in an arid region, Northwest China
Yuan FAN1, PinFang LI1, ZhenAn HOU2, TuSheng REN1, ChunLian XIONG1, Biao ZHANG1
1 College of Resources and Environmental Science, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China;
2 Department of Resources and Environmental Science, Shihezi University, Shihezi 832000, China
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Abstract  This paper focused on the water relations of two halophytes differing in photosynthetic pathway, phe-notype, and life cycle: Karelinia caspica (Pall.) Less. (C3, deep-rooted perennial Asteraceae grass) and Atriplex tatarica L. (C4, shallow-rooted annual Chenopodiaceae grass). Gas exchange, leaf water potential, and growth characteristics were investigated in two growing seasons in an arid area of Xinjiang to explore the physiological adaptability of the two halophytes. Both K. caspica and A. tatarica showed midday depression of transpiration, in-dicating that they were strong xerophytes and weak midday depression types. The roots of A. tatarica were con-centrated mainly in the 0–60 cm soil layer, and the leaf water potential (YL)) increased sharply in the 0–20 cm layer due to high soil water content, suggesting that the upper soil was the main water source. On the other hand, K. caspica had a rooting depth of about 1.5 m and a larger root/shoot ratio, which confirmed that this species uptakes water mainly from deeper soil layer. Although A. tatarica had lower transpiration water consumption, higher water use efficiency (WUE), and less water demand at the same leaf water potential, it showed larger water stress impact than K. caspica, indicating that the growth of A. tatarica was restricted more than that of K. caspica when there was no rainfall recharge. As a shallow-rooted C4 species, A. tatarica displayed lower stomatal conductance, which could to some extent reduce transpiration water loss and maintain leaf water potential steadily. In contrast, the deep-rooted C3 species K. caspica had a larger root/shoot ratio that was in favor of exploiting groundwater. We concluded that C3 species (K. caspica) tapes water and C4 species (A. tatarica) reduces water loss to survive in the arid and saline conditions. The results provided a case for the phenotype theory of Schwinning and Ehleringer on halophytic plants.

Key words tribe Atraphaxideae      Atraphaxis      Calligonum      chloroplast genes      monophyly     
Received: 04 April 2012      Published: 15 December 2012

The National Basic Research Program of China (2009CB825101) and the Specialized Re-search Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China (20110008110035).

Corresponding Authors: PinFang LI     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Yuan FAN, PinFang LI, ZhenAn HOU, TuSheng REN, ChunLian XIONG, Biao ZHANG. Water adaptive traits of deep-rooted C3 halophyte (Karelinia caspica (Pall.) Less.) and shallow-rooted C4 halophyte (Atriplex tatarica L.) in an arid region, Northwest China. Journal of Arid Land, 2012, 4(4): 469-478.

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