A RAPID SCREENING METHODOLOGY FOR SALT TOLERANCE IN GIANT SWAMP TARO (CYRTOSPERMA MERKUSII) AND ITS DIVERSITY

S. Rao, M. Taylor, A. Jokhan
Low-lying islands in the Pacific, such as atolls, are observing increased groundwater salinity, attributed to the impact of climate change, which is affecting the production of giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma merkusii). Giant swamp taro has been cultivated successfully in the atolls providing food and nutritional security for atoll communities. In addition, this unique crop has high cultural status. Despite the importance of this crop to the atoll communities and the Pacific in general very little research has been carried out on this species. Little is known about the extent of diversity and any variability in salinity tolerance that might exist. To better understand whether or not salinity tolerance exists within the genepool of swamp taro and the extent to which it might vary, a rapid screening method is needed. This paper reports on the diversity in the Pacific with specific reference to the island of Tuvalu. It also describes an in vitro screening method, which assesses the impact of salinity levels of 0, 0.5, 1.5 and 2% salt on two cultivars from Kiribati, ‘Ika raoi’ (larger cultivar) and the ‘Katutu’ (smaller cultivar). Two approaches are discussed, one in which “saltwater” is applied on an increment basis to avoid shock to the plant, and to mimic, as much as possible, inundation; the other incorporates the salt directly into the culture medium. The criteria for monitoring the experiment include biomass measurements and visual toxicity responses. Plants showed high tolerance to salinity in the first four weeks of the experiment but exhibited slight toxicity from the fifth week.
Rao, S., Taylor, M. and Jokhan, A. (2013). A RAPID SCREENING METHODOLOGY FOR SALT TOLERANCE IN GIANT SWAMP TARO (CYRTOSPERMA MERKUSII) AND ITS DIVERSITY. Acta Hortic. 979, 319-325
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2013.979.33
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2013.979.33
in vitro, in vivo, aroid, underutilised, food security
English

Acta Horticulturae