PLoS One. 2023 Aug 15;18(8):e0288547. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0288547. eCollection 2023.
Saline agriculture may contribute to food production in the face of the declining availability of fresh water and an expanding area of salinized soils worldwide. However, there is currently little known about the biomass and nutrient/antinutrient accumulation response of many edible halophytes to increasing levels of salinity and nitrogen source. To address this, two glass house experiments were carried out. The first to study the shoot biomass, and nutrient accumulation response, measured by ICP-MS analysis, of edible halophyte species, including Mesembryanthemum crystallinum (ice plant), Salsola komarovii (Land seaweed), Enchylaena tomentosa (Ruby Saltbush), Crithmum maritimum (Rock Samphire), Crambe maritima (Sea Kale) and Mertensia maritima (Oyster Plant), under increasing levels of salinity (0 to 800 mM). The second experiment studied the effects of nitrogen source combined with salinity, on levels of oxalate, measured by HPLC, in ice plant and ruby saltbush. Species differences for biomass and sodium (Na), potassium (K), chloride (Cl), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) accumulation were observed across the range of salt treatments (0 to 800mM). Shoot concentrations of the anti-nutrient oxalate decreased significantly in ice plant and ruby saltbush with an increase in the proportion of N provided as NH4+ (up to 100%), while shoot oxalate concentrations in ice plant and ruby saltbush grown in the absence of NaCl were not significantly different to oxalate concentrations in plants treated with 200 mM or 400 mM NaCl. However, the lower shoot oxalate concentrations observed with the increase in NH4+ came with concurrent reductions in shoot biomass. Results suggest that there will need to be a calculated tradeoff between oxalate levels and biomass when growing these plants for commercial purposes.