Responses to Drought and Salinity in the Endangered Species Ligularia sibirica (L.) Cass.

Andreea Natalia Matei, Mohamad Al Hassan, Monica Boscaiu, Valeriu Alexiu, Oscar Vicente


The negative effects of environmental stress factors on plant distribution and survival are increasing due to climate change and anthropogenic activities. We have analysed some responses to abiotic stress in Ligularia sibirica, a postglacial relict that is critically endangered in Europe. L. sibirica seedlings were subjected to water or salt stress treatments in the greenhouse. After the treatments, plant material was harvested and several growth parameters were measured; leaf contents of common osmolytes, the degree of oxidative stress affecting the plants and the level of antioxidant phenolic compounds were also determined. Both, drought and, especially, salt stress had a negative effect on the growth of L. sibirica plants. Treated plants showed an increase in proline (Pro) and total soluble sugars (TSS) levels, stronger under salt stress. Malondialdehyde (MDA, an oxidative stress biomarker) contents almost doubled, and antioxidant phenolics increased significantly in salt-stressed, but not in water-stressed plants. Pro accumulation can be used as a salt and drought stress biomarker in L. sibirica and, together with TSS, likely contributes to osmotic adjustment under stress. Increase of antioxidant phenolics appears to partly compensate the salt-induced generation of oxidative stress.


antioxidants; drought; Ligularia sibirica; osmolytes; salinity

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