Low unidirectional sodium influx into root cells restricts net sodium accumulation in Thellungiella halophila, a salt-tolerant relative of Arabidopsis thaliana

Bo Wang, Romola J Davenport, Vadim Volkov, Anna Amtmann
Journal of Experimental Botany 2006, 57 (5): 1161-70
Thellungiella halophila is a useful model species for research into plant salt tolerance. It is closely related to Arabidopsis thaliana, but shows considerably higher salt tolerance. Comparative analysis of ion homeostasis in the two species allows the identification of ion transport pathways that are critical for salt tolerance and provides the basis for future studies into their molecular features. Previous studies indicated that salt tolerance in T. halophila is accompanied by low accumulation of Na in the leaves. Kinetic analysis of net ion uptake over three days confirmed lower Na uptake and K loss in T. halophila compared with A. thaliana. Differential net Na uptake rates were still apparent after 6 weeks of salt treatment. To assess the contribution of unidirectional Na fluxes to net Na uptake, kinetic studies of (22)Na fluxes were carried out in both species. The results show that unidirectional root Na influx is significantly lower in salt-grown T. halophila plants than in A. thaliana exposed to the same level of salinity (100 mM). Quantitative comparison of unidirectional influx and net Na accumulation suggests that both species operate efficient Na efflux, which partly compensates for Na influx. Kinetic analysis of (22)Na efflux indicated higher root Na efflux in A. thaliana than in T. halophila. Thus A. thaliana appears to spend more energy on Na export while nevertheless accumulating more Na than T. halophila. It is proposed that limitation of Na influx is the main mechanism by which T. halophila secures low net Na accumulation in saline conditions. This strategy provides the basis for a positive balance between growth and net Na uptake rates, which is essential for survival in high salt.

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