Journal Article

A root's ability to retain K<sup>+</sup> correlates with salt tolerance in wheat

Tracey Ann Cuin, Stewart A. Betts, Rémi Chalmandrier and Sergey Shabala

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 59, issue 10, pages 2697-2706
Published in print July 2008 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:

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Most work on wheat breeding for salt tolerance has focused mainly on excluding Na+ from uptake and transport to the shoot. However, some recent findings have reported no apparent correlation between leaf Na+ content and wheat salt tolerance. Thus, it appears that excluding Na+ by itself is not always sufficient to increase plant salt tolerance and other physiological traits should also be considered. In this work, it was investigated whether a root's ability to retain K+ may be such a trait, and whether our previous findings for barley can be extrapolated to species following a ‘salt exclusion’ strategy. NaCl-induced kinetics of K+ flux from roots of two bread and two durum wheat genotypes, contrasting in their salt tolerance, were measured under laboratory conditions using non-invasive ion flux measuring (the MIFE) technique. These measurements were compared with whole-plant physiological characteristics and yield responses from plants grown under greenhouse conditions. The results show that K+ flux from the root surface of 6-d-old wheat seedlings in response to salt treatment was highly correlated with major plant physiological characteristics and yield of greenhouse-grown plants. This emphasizes the critical role of K+ homeostasis in plant salt tolerance and suggests that using NaCl-induced K+ flux measurements as a physiological ‘marker’ for salt tolerance may benefit wheat-breeding programmes.

Keywords: Microelectrode ion flux; potassium; salinity; screening; sodium; wheat

Journal Article.  5643 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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