The growth of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is very sensitive to salinity, with the most susceptible genotypes dying in just 25 mm NaCl and resistant genotypes unlikely to survive 100 mm NaCl in hydroponics; germination is more tolerant with some genotypes tolerating 320 mm NaCl. When growing in a saline medium, Cl-, which is secreted from glandular hairs on leaves, stems and pods, is present in higher concentrations in shoots than Na+. Salinity reduces the amount of water extractable from soil by a chickpea crop and induces osmotic adjustment, which is greater in nodules than in leaves or roots. Chickpea rhizobia show a higher 'free-living' salt resistance than chickpea plants, and salinity can cause large reductions in nodulation, nodule size and N2-fixation capacity. Recent screenings of diverse germplasm suggest significant variation of seed yield under saline conditions. Both dominance and additive gene effects have been identified in the effects of salinity on chickpea and there appears to be sufficient genetic variation to enable improvement in yield under saline conditions via breeding. Selections are required across the entire life cycle with a range of rhizobial strains under salt-affected, preferably field, conditions.
Plant, Cell and Environment, Published Online: 14 Oct 2009 [doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2009.02051.x]