Mitigation of salt stress damages in Carica papaya L. seedlings through exogenous pretreatments of gibberellic acid and proline

Sergio J. Álvarez-Méndez1, 2, Antonio Urbano-Gálvez1, and Jalel Mahouachi1*
Salinity is a serious threat for global agriculture, especially in arid and semi-arid regions where its incidence leads to considerable damages in the crop growth and production. Carica papaya L. is currently one of the most cultivated fruit crops in the tropical and subtropical areas, and generally, papaya cultivars exhibit a moderate sensitivity to salinity, although such responses may depend on the genotypes. In the present study, papaya seedlings were subjected to salt stress (100 mM NaCl) for 41 d and to exogenous gibberellic acid (GA3; 0.1 mM) and proline (10 mM) pretreatments to evaluate plant physiological variables linked to stress responses. Analysis of the data (P < 0.05) showed a general decrease of plant growth parameters induced by solely salt stress compared to control, such as stem height (47%) and thickness (33%) and plant fresh and dry mass (84% and 83%, respectively), as well as a reduction in the stomatal opening (93%), chlorophylls (40%) and carotenoids (71%) concentration. By contrast, a significant increase was found in foliar and radicular proline levels under stress (87% and 47%). Exogenous foliar GA3 or proline respectively induced a better performance of plants under salt stress by increasing stomatal conductance (444% or 350%), stem height (142% or 144%) and plant biomass (49% or 41%) regarding solely stressed plants, and leading to pigments concentrations close to those from control plants. The results suggest that exogenous gibberellic acid and proline as growth regulator and osmo-regulator solute, respectively could increase papaya seedlings adaption against salt stress.
Keywords: Photosynthetic pigments, plant growth, subtropics.
1Universidad de La Laguna, Departamento de Ingeniería Agraria y del Medio Natural, Ctra. de Geneto, 2, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, España.
*Corresponding author (jmahou@ull.edu.es).
2Universidad de La Laguna, Instituto Universitario de Bio-Orgánica Antonio González, Avda. Astrofísico Francisco Sánchez, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, España.