Biotech Updates

Salt Tolerant Gene Found in Arabidopsis

April 18, 2008

Breeding for salt tolerance in agricultural crops is becoming an important endeavor with forecasts of drought and global warming. With increased water evaporation, salt is left on the soil which affects plant growth and yield. The US Agriculture Department's Agriculture Research Service notes that almost one-third of the nation's irrigated and half of the world's land is salt affected. Recent findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reveals that salinity tolerance is now better understood with the discovery of a complex-N-glycan, a carbohydrate linked to a protein in plant cells which was previously believed to be an allergen. Dr. Hisashi Koiwa, the leader of the Texas AgriLife Research, in collaboration with an international team implicated the gene coding for the glycoprotein to the plant's ability to contend water.

Using Arabidopsis thaliana,  a model plant system in the laboratory, the researchers were able to discern genes and proteins that were expressed in salt-treated plants. The author of the paper believes that plant breeders can use these genes as they develop varieties and other food crops less affected by salt.

 For details of the news release, see