Understanding plant responses to saline waterlogging: insights from halophytes and implications for crop tolerance

Tamires S Martins, Cristiane J Da-Silva, Sergey Shabala, Gustavo G Striker, Ivan R Carvalho, Ana Claudia B de Oliveira, Luciano do Amarante

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Saline and wet environments stress most plants, reducing growth and yield. Halophytes adapt with ion regulation, energy maintenance, and antioxidants. Understanding these mechanisms aids in breeding resilient crops for climate change. Waterlogging and salinity are two abiotic stresses that have a major negative impact on crop growth and yield. These conditions cause osmotic, ionic, and oxidative stress, as well as energy deprivation, thus impairing plant growth and development. Although few crop species can tolerate the combination of salinity and waterlogging, halophytes are plant species that exhibit high tolerance to these conditions due to their morphological, anatomical, and metabolic adaptations. In this review, we discuss the main mechanisms employed by plants exposed to saline waterlogging, intending to understand the mechanistic basis of their ion homeostasis. We summarize the knowledge of transporters and channels involved in ion accumulation and exclusion, and how they are modulated to prevent cytosolic toxicity. In addition, we discuss how reactive oxygen species production and cell signaling enhance ion transport and aerenchyma formation, and how plants exposed to saline waterlogging can control oxidative stress. We also address the morphological and anatomical modifications that plants undergo in response to combined stress, including aerenchyma formation, root porosity, and other traits that help to mitigate stress. Furthermore, we discuss the peculiarities of halophyte plants and their features that can be leveraged to improve crop yields in areas prone to saline waterlogging. This review provides valuable insights into the mechanisms of plant adaptation to saline waterlogging thus paving the path for future research on crop breeding and management strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Issue number1
Early online date18 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


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