The role of calcium and potassium in salinity tolerance of Brassica rapa L. cv. RCBr seed.

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The possibility of manipulating calcium (Ca2+) and potassium (K+) levels in seeds of Brassica rapa by altering parent plant nutrition and investigating the potential for increased salinity tolerance during germination, given that considerable amounts of literature imply that greater amounts of available exogenous Ca2+ and K+ can ameliorate the effects of salinity on both whole plant growth and germination, was evaluated.

    The investigation consisted of four growth trials. Two preliminary growth trials
    suggested that seed ion manipulation was possible without affecting the overall
    growth and vigour of the plant. After developing suitable high and low Ca2+ and K+nutrient solutions for growth, a trial was carried out in a growth room and greenhouse, with various substrates and the seed of a certain size category was collected for subsequent ion and salinity tolerance analysis. Seed Ca2+ and K+ was significantly affected by growth substrate and nutrient solution and data showed that a significant negative regression relationship existed between seed Ca2+, K+ and Ca2+ + K+ levels and salinity tolerance. Further experimentation using hydroponic culture attempted to remove any possible effects of substrate and also to compare size categories of seed with a view to elucidating localisation of Ca2+ and K+. Seed Ca2+ was found to be significantly altered by nutrient solution in the two different sizes tested and higher Ca2+ nutrient solution was found to increase salinity tolerance in daughter seed. One
    significant negative regression correlation between salinity tolerance and seed K+ concentration existed in smaller seed, but disregarding seed size in a regression analysis of seed ion content and salinity tolerance, a significant negative relationship existed between seed Ca2+, K+ and Ca2++ K+
    . The results, especially in terms of Ca2+ nutrition, contradict much previous research that suggests increased salinity tolerance at germination can arise with the increased presence of Ca2+ and/or K+. Salinity tolerance was greater in seeds of larger size across all nutritional treatments and the smaller size range exhibited increased Ca2+ and K+ per μg seed.

    Ca2+ concentration in smaller seeds with greater surface area:volume ratios provided a clue to the potential localisation of Ca2+. Cross sectional staining showed that a greater proportion of seed Ca2+ may reside in the coat. This was confirmed by 2 analysis which showed an approximate 50% split of total extractable seed Ca2+, regardless of size, between coat and embryo within a seed; the majority of which, per μg, resides in the coat. Further work looked at the relative solubility of the Ca2+ and K+ in these tissues and whole seed to look at the potential bioavailability of Ca2+ during germination from various parts of the seed. Most water soluble Ca2+ exists in the embryo and most insoluble Ca2+ exists in the coat, but coat Ca2+ was found to be ionically exchangeable and therefore bioavailable. K+ appeared mostly water soluble in embryo and coat. In line with previous whole plant research in this species, most Ca2+ is readily water soluble or ionically exchangeable in form and the possible negative effects of how increasing bioavailable Ca2+ may reduce salinity tolerance was discussed.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorMark Bateman (Supervisor) & Phil Harris (Supervisor)


    • plant growth
    • plant nutrition
    • salinity tolerance
    • seed germination

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