Salt tolerance and survival

Growing successfully in saline conditions is not an easy feat for land plants. Not only does the high osmotic pressure around the roots make water uptake more challenging, high concentrations of sodium and chloride ions are toxic if they build up in the cytoplasm of plant cells. In addition, the ion transport needed for maintaining ion homeostasis under salinity and minimising toxicity requires energy that could otherwise be used for growth.    

Diverse wheat genotypes grown in a naturally salt‐affected field at Whitwarta, South Australia. Salinity levels in the soil solution are moderate (119 mM at 25–50 cm deep) which is enough to reduce plant growth and yield considerably in some lines, while other are better able to regulate energy budgets to produce better yields. Photo courtesy of Stuart Roy.

Understanding how plants can continue to grow under saline conditions and how we can increase salt tolerance in plants is becoming even more important. Not only are rising sea levels and irrigation with salty water increasing the salinity of agricultural land, but an increasing global demand for food means that areas of land with naturally high salt levels that were previously uncultivated are now needed for crop production.

The New Phytologist salt tolerance Feature issue includes reviews and articles that explore how salt stress impacts the plant at the cellular, tissue and whole plant level and also explores the energy costs involved in salinity tolerance.

Read the Feature issue: Featured papers on salt tolerance

Freja Kärrman-Bailey
Events and Promotion Coordinator
New Phytologist Trust