Plant under salt stress: Tackling the hassle

Washington D.C, Sept 6 (ANI): Since plants also suffer from stress due to high salt in soil, a new study has found specific proteins that allow plants to grow better under salt stress, and may help breed future generations of more salt-tolerant crop plants.

University of Melbourne’s lead author Staffan Persson said that unlike humans who can move away from the salty snacks or drink more water, a plant is stuck in high salt (or saline) soils and must use other tactics to cope.

Persson added that more and more crops are facing salt stress with high salt in soils (also known as salinity) affecting 20 percent of the total, and 33percent of irrigated, agricultural lands worldwide.

He noted that by 2050, it is estimated that people need to increase the production of food by 70 percent to feed an additional 2.3 billion people. Salinity is a major limiting factor for this goal as more than 50 percent of the arable land may be salt afflicted by the year 2050.

Persson stated that it is therefore of great agricultural importance to find genes and mechanisms that can improve plant growth under such conditions.

The team has identified a protein family that helps plants to grow on salt, and outlined a mechanism for how these proteins aid the plants to produce their biomass under salt stress conditions.

The current research revealed that a previously unknown family of proteins supports the cellulose synthase machinery under salt stress conditions, and was named “Companions of Cellulose synthase (CC).

The researchers discovered that the CC gene activity was increased when plants were exposed to high salt concentrations. Thus, the research team hypothesized an involvement of these proteins in salt tolerance of plants.

The work was published today in the journal Cell. (ANI)

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