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The Argentinean semiarid Chaco region is climatically suitable for cattle raising and has an average annual rainfall of 550 mm, concentrated from November to February. There, large areas are affected by high salinity; thus, perennial forages suitable for this region must combine adequate salt and drought tolerance. Panicum coloratum is a C4 perennial grass adapted over a wide range of soil and rainfall conditions, and the purpose of this study was to evaluate the response of two cultivars (Klein Verde and Bambatsi) to salinity. Under controlled conditions, 100 and 200 mmol l−1 NaCl delayed germination and significantly reduced germination percentages and seedling survival in both cultivars. However, in the field, factors other than salinity (possibly drought) had a large impact on plant survival. In short-term experiments under controlled environmental conditions, the vegetative growth of cultivar Klein Verde was less affected by salinity than Bambatsi. The cumulative growth over one year in a saline plot was also higher in cultivar Klein Verde. This cultivar also had higher shoot K+/Na+ ratios under salinity, as a result of higher K+ concentrations, and accumulated more triglycerides in roots. These features have been associated with salt tolerance in other species.