Characterization of the salt stress vulnerability of three invasive freshwater plant species using a metabolic profiling approach.
The effects of salt stress on freshwater plants has been little studied up to now, despite the fact that they are expected to present different levels of salt sensitivity or salt resistance depending on the species. The aim of this work was to assess the effect of NaCl at two concentrations on three invasive freshwater species, Elodea canadensis, Myriophyllum aquaticum and Ludwigia grandiflora, by examining morphological and physiological parameters and using metabolic profiling. The growth rate (biomass and stem length) was reduced for all species, whatever the salt treatment, but the response to salt differed between the three species, depending on the NaCl concentration. For E. canadensis, the physiological traits and metabolic profiles were only slightly modified in response to salt, whereas M. aquaticum and L. grandiflora showed great changes. In both of these species, root number, photosynthetic pigment content, amino acids and carbohydrate metabolism were affected by the salt treatments. Moreover, we are the first to report the salt-induced accumulation of compatible solutes in both species. Indeed, in response to NaCl, L. grandiflora mainly accumulated sucrose. The response of M. aquaticum was more complex, because it accumulated not only sucrose and myo-inositol whatever the level of salt stress, but also amino acids such as proline and GABA, but only at high NaCl concentrations. These responses are the metabolic responses typically found in terrestrial plants.