Age of plant influences the effect of salinity in yield and mineral content of ice plant




The use of salinity-tolerant plants represents a response to the problem of the expansion of salinized soils, making coastal and salt-affected areas productive. Furthermore, limited fresh water resources may increasingly constrain the use of low-quality irrigation water. Therefore, intensified use of halotolerant crop plants will be necessary. Mesembryanthemum crystallinum is a salinity-tolerant plant widely distributed and currently with a great gastronomic interest because is considered a functional food. The objective of this work was to evaluate the differential effect of a moderate salinity treatment imposed in ice plants of 40 or 55 days after transplanting. Thus, M. crystallinum of 40 and 55 days were grown under 0 and 100 mM NaCl during two weeks. The results showed that the effect of salinity depended of the age of plants. Growth parameters as shoot biomass or shoot height decreased in plants of 40 days after transplanting (DAT) subjected to salinity while no differences were found in 55 DAT plants. Also, salinity improved important yield parameters as leaf fresh mass and area when the treatment was applied in 55 DAT plants and caused higher SLA and chlorophylls content in both groups of plants. Ice plant can be intentionally cultivated 55 DAT under moderate salinity conditions to enhance crop yield which could contribute to a more extensive use of its edible leaves as functional and alternative food.