Direct measurement of sodium and potassium in the transpiration stream of salt-excluding and non-excluding varieties of wheat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


The xylem-feeding insect Philaenus spumarius was used to analyse sodium and potassium fluxes in the xylem of intact, transpiring wheat plants. Two cultivars were compared: the salt-excluding (Chinese Spring) and the non-excluding (Langdon). Chinese Spring accumulated much less sodium in its leaves than the salt-sensitive Langdon. After 7 d in 150 mol m(-3) NaCl, the sodium concentration in the leaf sap of Langdon reached over 600 mol m(-3). This was some three-fold greater than that in Chinese Spring. Similar findings have previously been reported from these cultivars. The reduced ion accumulation was specific to sodium; accumulation of K+ was unaffected by NaCl in Chinese Spring, such that it developed a much lower leaf Na+/K+ ratio than Langdon. The spittlebug, P. spumarius was used to sample xylem sap from both cultivars. This approach showed that the leaf xylem sap of Chinese Spring had much lower levels of sodium than that of Langdon. In the 150 mol m(-3) NaCl treatment, sodium levels in the leaf xylem reached only 2-3 mol m(-3) in Chinese Spring, compared with 8-10 mol m(-3) in Langdon. Transpiration rates were found to be similar in the two varieties. The lower leaf xylem content alone was thus sufficient to account for the reduced accumulation of sodium in leaves of Chinese Spring. The mechanisms by which xylem sodium might be lowered are discussed and it is concluded that sodium is probably excluded from the xylem in the root of Chinese Spring.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1873-1881
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number362
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2001


  • Triticum aestivum, Philaenus spumarius, sodium exclusion, Triticum turgidum, xylem transport