High concentrations of sodium are toxic to most plant species, making soil salinity a major abiotic stress in plant productivity world wide. Its salinity resistance makes the turf grass Pennisetum clandestinum Hochst. (kikuyu grass) one of the candidate plants for utilization and reclamation of salinized areas. Kikuyu grass, a perennial grass native to the highlands of Central Africa, now common in many areas has recently been considered to be of particular interest because of its growth rate and well developed root system. This review discusses the biochemical and physiological basis of salt resistance of kikuyu grass. The objective of this review is to present current research knowledge related to the effect of salinity on kikuyu grass and its interaction with metabolic process and whole-plant physiology. It will also provide additional important information for the use of this grass as pasture, in phytoremediation, in controlling soil erosion and in biomass production for energy, in salt affected lands, where the growth of other species is markedly reduced. It focuses on the effect of salinity on the germination, growth, metabolism, biochemistry, nutritive properties and root morphology of kikuyu grass. Better understanding of physiological responses to specific environmental constraints will contribute to efficient agricultural zoning. This review compiles evidence that kikuyu grass can germinate and grow in salinized areas. The use of this salt tolerant grass may be an important part of a range of practices, such as recycling saline wastewater and reclaiming salt-affected soil in arid-zone irrigation districts.
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