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Saman Ehsen, Rabab Fatima Rizvi, Zainul Abideen, Irfan Aziz, Salman Gulzar, Bilquees Gul, M. Ajmal Khan and Raziuddin Ansari

Zaleya pentandra is a moderately salt resistant xero-halophyte, used locally as cattle fodder and as a source of medicine for various ailments. The present study deals with the effect of salinity on growth, leaf water relations, photosynthesis and anti-nutritive chemicals of this plant. Plants were grown in plastic pots containing sandy loam soil irrigated with Hoagland’s nutrient solution under various salt (0, 75 and 150 mM NaCl) treatments in an open netted green house. Shoot and root length and biomass, number of leaves and nodes, remained unchanged at 75 mM NaCl treatment compared to non-saline controls. Shoot dry weight decreased by about 70% at 150 mM NaCl treatment, while root dry weight remained unaffected by salinity. Leaf osmotic potential also was unaffected at 75 Mm NaCl but decreased at 150 mM NaCl. Leaf water potential decreased progressively with increasing salinity treatments. Calculated turgor pressure decreased with increase in salinity. Rate of photosynthesis was unaffected under 75 mM NaCl treatment but decreased by about 50% at high NaCl treatment (i.e. 150 mM NaCl). Similar trends were observed for stomatal conductance and rate of transpiration with concomitant increase in water use efficiency (WUE) at 150 mM NaCl. There was no change in the intrinsic photochemical efficiency of PSII (Fv/Fm) (no photo-inhibition) under saline conditions. However, the effective photochemical efficiency of PSII (Fv’/Fm’) was generally low particularly at 150 mM NaCl. Among anti-nutrient chemicals, saponin and nitrate decreased significantly under saline conditions, tannins increased whereas, oxalates, phenols and flavonoids were unaffected. However, all these chemicals were within acceptable limits for cattle feed except for oxalates, which were marginally higher

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