Linking salinity stress tolerance with tissue-specific Na+ sequestration in wheat roots

Honghong Wu, Lana Shabala, Xiaohui Liu, Elisa Azzarello, Meixue Zhou, Camilla Pandolfi, Zhong Hua Chen, Jayakumar Bose, Stefano Mancuso, Sergey Shabala

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78 Citations (Scopus)


Salinity stress tolerance is a physiologically complex trait that is conferred by the large array of interacting mechanisms. Among these, vacuolar Na+ sequestration has always been considered as one of the key components differentiating between sensitive and tolerant species and genotypes. However, vacuolar Na+ sequestration has been rarely considered in the context of the tissue-specific expression and regulation of appropriate transporters contributing to Na+ removal from the cytosol. In this work, six bread wheat varieties contrasting in their salinity tolerance (three tolerant and three sensitive) were used to understand the essentiality of vacuolar Na+ sequestration between functionally different root tissues, and link it with the overall salinity stress tolerance in this species. Roots of 4-day old wheat seedlings were treated with 100 mM NaCl for 3 days, and then Na+ distribution between cytosol and vacuole was quantified by CoroNa Green fluorescent dye imaging. Our major observations were as follows: (1) salinity stress tolerance correlated positively with vacuolar Na+ sequestration ability in the mature root zone but not in the root apex; (2) contrary to expectations, cytosolic Na+ levels in root meristem were significantly higher in salt tolerant than sensitive group, while vacuolar Na+ levels showed an opposite trend. These results are interpreted as meristem cells playing a role of the “salt sensor;” (3) no significant difference in the vacuolar Na+ sequestration ability was found between sensitive and tolerant groups in either transition or elongation zones; (4) the overall Na+ accumulation was highest in the elongation zone, suggesting its role in osmotic adjustment and turgor maintenance required to drive root expansion growth. Overall, the reported results suggest high tissue-specificity of Na+ uptake, signaling, and sequestration in wheat roots. The implications of these findings for plant breeding for salinity stress tolerance are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Issue numberFEB
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


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