Agronomy (Jul 2020)

Wild and Cultivated Sunflower (<i>Helianthus annuus</i> L.) Do Not Differ in Salinity Tolerance When Taking Vigor into Account

  • Vivian H. Tran,
  • Andries A. Temme,
  • Lisa A. Donovan

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 7
p. 1013


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Cultivated crops are expected to be less stress tolerant than their wild relatives, leading to efforts to mine wild relatives for traits to increase crop tolerance. However, empirical tests of this expectation often confound tolerance with plant vigor. We assessed whether wild and cultivated Helianthus annuus L. differed for salinity tolerance with 0 and 150 mM NaCl treatments. Salinity tolerance was assessed as the proportional reduction in biomass and as the deviation from expected performance based on vigor. Cultivated accessions had a greater proportional decline in biomass than wild accessions, but proportional decline was positively associated with vigor in both. Thus, wild and cultivated H. annuus did not differ for tolerance when variation in vigor was corrected for statistically. For traits potentially related to tolerance mechanisms, wild and cultivated accessions differed for elemental content and allocation of N, P, K, Mg, Ca, S, Na, Fe, Mn, B, Cu, and Zn for some tissues, biomass allocation, specific leaf area, and leaf succulence. However, these traits were generally unrelated to tolerance corrected for vigor. Osmotic adjustment was associated with tolerance corrected for vigor only in wild accessions where more osmotic adjustment was associated with greater tolerance. Our results for H. annuus suggest that efforts to use wild relatives to enhance crop abiotic stress tolerance will benefit from greater knowledge of traits related to plant growth responses decoupled from vigor, in order to get beyond potential growth-tolerance trade-offs.