• apoplast;
  • Oryza saliva;
  • osmotic adjustment;
  • salinity;
  • X-ray microanalysis.

Abstract. When plants of rice (Oryza saliva L.) are subjected to mildly saline (50mol m−3 NaCl) conditions, the leaves show symptoms of water deficit, even though ion accumulation has been more than sufficient to adjust to the decrease in external water potential. After a few days of exposure to salt, there is a negative correlation, in a population of leaves, between the leaf water concentration (g water per g dry weight) and their sodium concentration (mmol Na per g dry weight). Ion concentrations in the cell walls and the cytoplasm of cells of plants grown in low salinity were measured by X-ray microanalysis. The NaCl concentration in solution in the apoplast was calculated to be around 600mol m−3 in leaves of plants whose roots were exposed to only 50 mol m−3 NaCl. This constitutes strong evidence that an important factor in salt damage in rice is dehydration due to the extracellular accumulation of salt as suggested in the Oertli hypothesis. The implication, that changes in tissue ion concentration and solute potentials equivalent to the external medium is not evidence of plant osmotic adjustment to salinity, is discussed.