[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the northern spring–summer season of 2004–2005, vegetative propagated plants of Spartina alterniflora were grown under control and water stress conditions on the Mediterranean sea shore of the south-east of Tunis. Control plants were irrigated every week and water stress plants were irrigated until the soil achieved 50% (mild stress) and 25% (severe stress) field capacity (FC). Dry and fresh weight at the whole plant level (g plant−1), shoot to root ratio on dry and fresh weight, photosynthesis (A), transpiration rate (E), instantaneous water-use efficiency (WUEi), leaf water potential (Ψw), leaf water content (WC), osmotic potential at full turgor (Ψs100), osmotic potential at turgor loss point (Ψs0), osmotic adjustment (OA), proline, sugars, inorganic compounds and cell wall elasticity (CWE) were evaluated during a period of 6 days period between 82 and 90 days after the beginning of treatment (DAT). Plants grown under severe and mild-water stress showed lower Ψw than in control plants with values that averaged −3.1, −1.6 and −0.9 MPa, respectively. S. alterniflora plants submitted to mild-water stress exhibited OA and a decrease in CWE. However, under severe water stress the OA was not observed and CWE also decreased, but it was higher than in the mild-water stress. OA was mainly explained by the accumulation of nitrates, sugars and at a lesser degree, proline. S. alterniflora had a strong decline of the dry and fresh weight of the whole plant associated to a marked decrease of photosynthesis (A) and transpiration (E) in response to water stress, although WUEi was increased. These results suggest that OA and WUEi can be important components of the water stress adaptation mechanism in this species, but they are not sufficient enough to contribute to resistance to water stress.