JOURNAL ARTICLE

Using euhalophytes to understand salt tolerance and to develop saline agriculture: Suaeda salsa as a promising model

Jie Song, Baoshan Wang
Annals of Botany 2015, 115 (3): 541-53
25288631

BACKGROUND: As important components in saline agriculture, halophytes can help to provide food for a growing world population. In addition to being potential crops in their own right, halophytes are also potential sources of salt-resistance genes that might help plant breeders and molecular biologists increase the salt tolerance of conventional crop plants. One especially promising halophyte is Suaeda salsa, a euhalophytic herb that occurs both on inland saline soils and in the intertidal zone. The species produces dimorphic seeds: black seeds are sensitive to salinity and remain dormant in light under high salt concentrations, while brown seeds can germinate under high salinity (e.g. 600 mm NaCl) regardless of light. Consequently, the species is useful for studying the mechanisms by which dimorphic seeds are adapted to saline environments. S. salsa has succulent leaves and is highly salt tolerant (e.g. its optimal NaCl concentration for growth is 200 mm). A series of S. salsa genes related to salt tolerance have been cloned and their functions tested: these include SsNHX1, SsHKT1, SsAPX, SsCAT1, SsP5CS and SsBADH. The species is economically important because its fresh branches have high value as a vegetable, and its seed oil is edible and rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Because it can remove salts and heavy metals from saline soils, S. salsa can also be used in the restoration of salinized or contaminated saline land.

SCOPE: Because of its economic and ecological value in saline agriculture, S. salsa is one of the most important halophytes in China. In this review, the value of S. salsa as a source of food, medicine and forage is discussed. Its uses in the restoration of salinized or contaminated land and as a source of salt-resistance genes are also considered.

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