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Breakthrough: How salt stops plant growth
Date:1/23/2013

e external challenges. While plants can't run for safety, they can control how much they grow into dangerous territory," commented Dinneny. It turns out that Abscisic Acid, a stress hormone produced in the plant when it is exposed to drought or salty environments, is important in controlling the plant equivalent of fight or flight."

To understand how Abscisic Acid controls growth, the investigators devised a strategy to inhibit the response to this hormone in different tissue layers of the root. They developed several mutants in which the response to the hormone was suppressed in different root layers. They found that a significant portion of the salt response was dependent upon how a single cell layer sensed the hormone. The live imaging allowed them to watch what happened to root growth in these mutant plants.

"Interestingly, the 'inner-skin' of the root, called the endodermis, was most critical for this process. This tissue layer is particularly important as it acts like a semipermeable barrier limiting which substances can enter the root system from the soil environment." remarked lead author Duan.

"Our results mean that in addition to acting as a filter for substances in the soil, the endodermis also acts as a guard, with Abscisic Acid, to prevent a plant from growing in dangerous environments," said Dinneny.

"Irrigation of agricultural land is a major contributor to soil salinity. And as sea levels rise with climate change, understanding how plants, particularly crops, react to salt might allow us to develop plant varieties that can grow in the saltier soils that will likely occur in coastal zones."


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Contact: Jos Dinneny
dinneny@stanford.edu
650-738-4257
Carnegie Institution
Source:Eurekalert  

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