Lotus tenuis (Wadst. & Kit.) is a perennial legume widely grown for pasture in the flood-prone and salt affected Pampa region of Argentina. The physiology of salt and waterlogging tolerance in L. tenuis (four cultivars) was evaluated, and compared with Lotus corniculatus (three cultivars); the most widely cultivated Lotus species. Overall, L. tenuis cultivars accumulated less Na+ and Cl−, and more K+ in shoots than L. corniculatus cultivars, when exposed to 200 mM NaCl for 28 days in aerated or in stagnant solutions. Root porosity was higher in L. tenuis cultivars due to greater aerenchyma formation. In a NaCl dose–response experiment (0–400 mM NaCl in aerated solution), L. tenuis (cv. Chaja) accumulated half as much Cl− in its shoots than L. corniculatus (cv. San Gabriel) at all external NaCl concentrations, and about 30% less shoot Na+ in treatments above 250 mM NaCl. Ion distributions in shoots were determined for plants at 200 mM NaCl. L. tenuis (cv. Chaja) again accumulated about half as much Cl− in old leaves, young leaves and stems, compared with concentrations in L. corniculatus (cv. San Gabriel). There were not, however, significant differences between the two species for Na+ concentrations in the various shoot tissues. The higher root porosity, and maintenance of lower shoot Cl− and Na+ concentrations in L. tenuis, compared with L. corniculatus, contributes to the greater tolerance to combined salt and waterlogging stress in L. tenuis. Moreover, significant variation for tolerance to combined salinity and waterlogging stress was identified within both L. tenuis and L. corniculatus.
Keywords: Cl - Lotus corniculatus - Lotus tenuis (Lotus glaber) - Na+ - Salt tolerance - Waterlogging tolerance