Salt Loving Plants to Help Sustainable Global Food Production

Researchers from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) in Australia believe that salt tolerant plants may be the key to sustainable global food production. In an opinion paper published in Trends in Plant Sciences, Sergey Shabala, Jayakumar Bose and Rainer Hedrich propose a new concept for breeding salt-tolerant plants that will help attain sustainable food production.

Shabala said, "We suggest that we should learn from nature and do what halophytes, or naturally salt-loving plants, are doing: taking up salt but depositing it in a safe place—external balloon-like structures on the leaf surface called salt bladders." Shabala and his colleagues suggest the possibility of modifying genes in traditional crops such as wheat and rice to allow them to develop salt bladders. The research team believes that one may be able to grow external salt depots on any crop, and could add a new and very promising dimension to breeding salt tolerant crops.

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This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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