In the coming years, the scientific community, extension specialists and horticulturists will have to deal with growing agronomic and horticultural crops under sub-optimal conditions dictated by a global change scenarios. Salinity which is a water or soil quality concern is one of the most serious threats limiting the productivity of vegetables which are highly susceptible to soil and/or water salinity. In vegetable crops, soil and/or water salinity have been reported to disturb biochemical, morpho-physiological, and molecular processes leading to stunted growth and yield reduction. This article gives an overview of the recent literature on salinity response of vegetable crops (in which sodium chloride, NaCl, is the predominant salt) as well as the physiological and molecular mechanisms of salt tolerance. The physiological mechanisms behind the response of vegetable crops to Na+ and Cl- and the functions that directly and/or indirectly affect the produce quality in terms of nutritional and functional quality will be elucidated. In addition, the effects of different salinity sources coming from other ions such as Mg2+, SO42-, HCO3- and Ca2+ are also discussed. Finally, the review paper identifies trendy research areas relevant to salinity as a eustressor for boosting quality of vegetables without compromising yield.
Keywords: vegetables, eustress, phytochemicals, salinity sources, sustainable horticulture, yield gap