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WILL HALOPHYTES IN MEDITERRANEAN SALT MARSHES BE ABLE TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE?

Published in AgroLife Scientific Journal, Volume 9, Number 2
Written by Oscar VICENTE, Monica BOSCAIU

Mediterranean salt marshes are fragile ecosystems, highly susceptible to the effects of climate change, inhabited by a characteristic halophytic flora, which includes abundant and widely distributed 'structural’ halophytes, together with rare species of high ecological value. These plants are distributed along salinity gradients, primarily based on their relative salt tolerance; they are also adapted to the high temperatures and drought characteristic of Mediterranean summers. With periods of drought and heatwaves increasingly frequent and intense, global warming will also cause a rise in soil salinity. These changes could affect the distribution of some species, reducing their populations or even leading to the local disappearance of some taxa. Over the last years, we have investigated the salt and water stress responses of halophytes of several genera, in field studies and under greenhouse conditions. In this communication, we will present results showing that at least some of the species investigated possess mechanisms that can allow them to rapidly adapt and survive the climate change-induced alterations of the environment in their natural habitats.

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