Salt stress and exogenous silicon influence physiological and anatomical features of in vitro-grown cape gooseberry

ABSTRACT: Salt stress is one of several major abiotic stresses that affect plant growth and development, and there are many evidences that silicon can ameliorate the injuries caused by high salinity. This study presents the results of an assay concerning: (1) the effect of in vitro NaCl-induced salt stress in cape gooseberry plants and (2) the possible mitigating effect of silicon in saline conditions. For that, nodal segments were inoculated in Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium under salinity (0.5 and 1.0% NaCl) with different silicic acid concentrations (0, 0.5 and 1.0g L-1). Phytotechnical characteristics, photosynthetic pigments content, and leaf anatomy were evaluated after 30 days. Shoot length, root length, number of leaves and buds, fresh and dry weight, pigment content, stomatal density and leaf blade thickness were drastically reduced by increased salt level. The supply of silicon (1.0g L-1) has successfully mitigated the effect of salinity at 0.5% NaCl for chlorophyll, carotenoids, stomatal density and leaf blade thickness. When salt stress was about 1.0%, Si was not effective anymore. In conclusion, we affirmed that, in in vitro conditions, salt stress is harmful for cape gooseberry plants and the addition of silicon showed effective in mitigating the saline effects of some features.