The leafy vegetable Telfairia occidentalis is a tropical vine grown in West Africa; it is indigenous to Southern Nigeria and is usually subjected to extreme salt stress in Southern Nigeria as well as in the world that results in significant loss of T. occidentalis production. Therefore, the present investigation was aimed at evaluating the response of T. occidentalis seedlings inoculated with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (Glomus geosporum) in saline soil and further to determine the threshold of T. occidentalis salinity tolerance in association with G. geosporum. The total photosynthetic pigments contents in saline soil treatment were significantly (p=0.05) reduced as well as percentage arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi colonization (53.97 to 22.41%). Mycorrhizal dependency was significantly (p=0.05) higher in saline soil treatments compared to control (100.00% to 15.13%). Mineral analysis of T. occidentalis leaves revealed increased uptake and accumulation of Na+ (500.00 mg/kg in control to 2920.13 mg/kg in saline soil treatment). Saline soil treatments significantly (p=0.05) reduced the K, Mg, N, P and Ca. AM Fungi significantly (p=0.05) increased the photosynthetic pigments and minerals both in saline and non-saline soil treatments. Using different mechanisms T. occidentalis by association with G. geosporum showed better salt tolerance thank the uninoculated plants. G. geosporum was able to impose some physiological and root morphological changes such as an extensive network of the mycorrhizal-plant roots to improve water and mineral nutrient uptake. Physiologically G. geosporum inoculation enriched T. occidentalis vigour, attuned the rate of K+/Na+ which restored nutrient and water balance in the plant and directly resulting in the enhancement of salt tolerance in T. occidentalis seedlings, thus improving growth and yield.
International Letters of Natural Sciences (Volume 76)