The performances of the Algerian local genotypes Mohamed Ben Bachir and Oued Zenati tested under NaCl stress, show an ability to withstand moderate salt concentrations. It appears that salinity affected normal physiological functions of wheat genotypes. This was expressed by the imbalance in water relation, mineral balance and proline accumulation in the two genotypes. It was noted that these genotypes showed a low leaf water potential (Ψw) which is associated with suitable relative water content (RWC), which maintains the tissues hydration. It seems that the decline in water and osmotic potential is not due to water loss but to a significant accumulation of Na+ and proline in which tissues can feed satisfactorily with water and this is possible through osmorégulation mechanism sealed by the fundamental role of membrane integrity to regulate cellular permeability. Physiologically, it is a quantitative rather than a qualitative difference between the two genotypes tested in this study. The better physiological mechanisms associated with less affected water relation and Na+ efflux probably contributed to the higher salt tolerance in M.B. Bachir than in O. Zenati genotype. Therefore, these genotypes could be considered as salt tolerant and they are suitable in improving durum wheat for salt tolerance.
Key words: NaCl, wheat genotypes, physiological responses, membrane integrity, proline, K+/Na+ selectivity.
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