Apple trees are often subject to severe salt stress in China as well as in the world that results in significant loss of apple production. Therefore this study was carried out to evaluate the response of apple seedlings inoculated with abuscular mycorrhizal fungi under 0, 2‰, 4‰ and 6‰ salinity stress levels and further to conclude the upper threshold of mycorrhizal salinity tolerance.
The results shows that abuscular mycorrhizal fungi significantly increased the root length colonization of mycorrhizal apple plants with exposure time period to 0, 2‰ and 4‰ salinity levels as compared to non-mycorrhizal plants, however, percent root colonization reduced as saline stress increased. Salinity levels were found to negatively correlate with leaf relative turgidity, osmotic potential irrespective of non-mycorrhizal and mycorrhizal apple plants, but the decreased mycorrhizal leaf turgidity maintained relative normal values at 2‰ and 4‰ salt concentrations. Under salt stress condition, Cl(-) and Na(+) concentrations clearly increased and K(+) contents obviously decreased in non-mycorrhizal roots in comparison to mycorrhizal plants, this caused mycorrhizal plants had a relatively higher K(+)/Na(+) ratio in root. In contrast to zero salinity level, although ascorbate peroxidase and catalase activities in non-inoculated and inoculated leaf improved under all saline levels, the extent of which these enzymes increased was greater in mycorrhizal than in non-mycorrhizal plants. The numbers of survived tree with non-mycorrhization were 40, 20 and 0 (i.e., 66.7%, 33.3% and 0) on the days of 30, 60 and 90 under 4‰ salinity, similarly in mycorrhization under 6‰ salinity 40, 30 and 0 (i.e., 66.7%, 50% and 0) respectively.
These results suggest that 2‰ and 4‰ salt concentrations may be the upper thresholds of salinity tolerance in non-mycorrhizal and mycorrhizal apple plants, respectively.