Nicotiana glauca, a shrub native to southern South America, is widely distributed in the Americas, from Patagonia to the USA, from zero up to 3,700 m; it rapidly invades disturbed environments. In Venezuela, it has been reported from zero up to 2,000 m growing in contrasting conditions of relative humidity, temperature, rainfall, and salinity. In order to gain insight into the extent and mode of resistance to drought and salinity in N. glauca, we studied the effect of these factors on water relations and photosynthesis under both natural and greenhouse conditions. In the field, water potential, photosynthetic rate (A) and stomatal conductance (gs), but not relative water content (RWC) decreased because of drought. Manual removal of epicuticular wax increased excess energy dissipation through non-photochemical quenching without altering the capacity of photochemical quenching. In the greenhouse, water deficit as well as salinity resulted in osmotic adjustment; at the end of the experiment, turgor potential and RWC under water deficit were similar to control and higher under salinity. Water deficit and salinity caused marked decreases in A and gs. There were very few or no changes with natural drought, salinity or experimental water deficit in potential quantum efficiency of PSII, which could be explained partly by an increased nonphotochemical quenching. We conclude that the partial tolerance to drought and salinity in plants of N. glauca resides in their ability to achieve water conservation through stomatal closure and osmotic adjustment, reduce absorption of excess radiation through the presence of leaf wax and dissipate it through increased non-photochemical quenching. All these characteristics confer plants of N. glauca advantages to invade disturbed areas, subject to salinity and/or seasonal drought under high irradiance.
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- Osmotic adjustment
- Water deficit