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Chemical composition of salt-marsh plants from Ynys Môn (Anglesey): the concept of physiotypes


Department of Biochemistry & Soil Science, University College of North Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd LL572UW, Wales, U.K.


Abstract The chemical compositions of a number of halophytes from salt marshes on Ynys Môn (Anglesey), Wales, and of some related mesophytes and sand dune plants have been determined. Analyses of the inorganic ions broadly confirmed the existence of a characteristic chemical composition of many monoco-tyledonous salt-marsh plants in that they contain high levels of potassium and relatively low levels of sodium. In contrast to most dicotyledonous halophytes, especially members of the Chenopodiacease, the monocots restrict the entry of inorganic ions and use high levels of soluble sugars to maintain an adequate solute potential. Low calcium levels were not found to be a feature of these plants, as was previously reported. The large amounts of sugars found in the monocotyle-donous plants suggested that they must be located mainly in the vacuoles, in contrast to glycinebetaine which is thought to accumulate principally in the cytoplasm of the salt accumulating Chenopodiaceae. The monocotyledonous halophytes which accumulate proline differ from the normal monocotyledonous physiotype in the accumulation of larger quantities of sodium. Triglochin maritima is one species of this type, and Puccinellia maritima a less extreme example. Spartina spp. accumulating glycinebetaine and β-dimethyl-sulphoniopropionate also have unusually high inorganic ion contents for monocots. Several salt marsh plants contained large quantities of amino acids other than proline. As with ionic composition, the nature of the organic solutes broadly followed taxonomic lines. The usefulness of the physiotype concept is discussed.

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