Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Cliff Ross

Second Advisor

Dr. Courtney Hackney

Third Advisor

Dr. Jim Gelsleichter

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Tim Sherman

Department Chair

Dr. Daniel C. Moon

College Dean

Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick


Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.) is native to freshwater wetlands of Florida. The vitality of cypress within coastal freshwater wetlands is threatened by saltwater intrusion. Biomarkers to detect sub-lethal salinity stress were developed using a controlled greenhouse study. Cypress saplings maintained at elevated salinities of 4 and 8‰ exhibited a decrease in maximum quantum yield (MQY) and an increase in non-photochemical quenching (NPQ). Cypress leaves exhibited an increase in Na+, H2O2, and free proline content compared to plants maintained in freshwater. These biomarkers were used to detect salinity stress within a population of cypress associated with the lower St. Johns River where saltwater intrusion is occurring. Cypress in a basin swamp exhibited signs of salinity stress with low MQY and elevated NPQ values compared to Cypress at other sites. Cypress leaves at the basin swamp also had the highest Na+, lipid peroxidation, and proline content compared to plants at other sites. Detached Cypress leaf experiments were conducted to explore the mechanisms of salt tolerance. Detached cypress leaves were first exposed to elevated NaCl concentrations for 24, 48, or 72 hours. Elevated salinity caused a decrease in leaf transpiration for all times tested. Total peroxidase activity exhibited an increase in response to salt stress after 48 hours. Enhanced peroxidase activity was found to be associated with the induction of a ~37 kDa peroxidase isoform. Treatment of leaves with clofibrate caused an increase in activity of the ~37 kDa peroxidase. Pre-treatment of leaves with brefeldin A (BFA) blocked the induction of the ~37 kDa peroxidase associated with salt stress. Pre-treatment of Cypress leaves with diphenyliodonium (DPI) blocked the decrease in transpiration associated with salt stress, suggesting that H2O2 is enzymatically produced within the stomata in response to salt stress