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Salt-Specific Gene Expression Reveals Elevated Auxin Levels in Arabidopsis thaliana Plants Grown Under Saline Conditions.

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Cannistraci, Carlo Vittorio 
Meier, Stuart 
Ferrandi, Paul 
Pěnčík, Aleš 


Soil salinization is increasing globally, driving a reduction in crop yields that threatens food security. Salinity stress reduces plant growth by exerting two stresses on plants: rapid shoot ion-independent effects which are largely osmotic and delayed ionic effects that are specific to salinity stress. In this study we set out to delineate the osmotic from the ionic effects of salinity stress. Arabidopsis thaliana plants were germinated and grown for two weeks in media supplemented with 50, 75, 100, or 125 mM NaCl (that imposes both an ionic and osmotic stress) or iso-osmolar concentrations (100, 150, 200, or 250 mM) of sorbitol, that imposes only an osmotic stress. A subsequent transcriptional analysis was performed to identify sets of genes that are differentially expressed in plants grown in (1) NaCl or (2) sorbitol compared to controls. A comparison of the gene sets identified genes that are differentially expressed under both challenge conditions (osmotic genes) and genes that are only differentially expressed in plants grown on NaCl (ionic genes, hereafter referred to as salt-specific genes). A pathway analysis of the osmotic and salt-specific gene lists revealed that distinct biological processes are modulated during growth under the two conditions. The list of salt-specific genes was enriched in the gene ontology (GO) term "response to auxin." Quantification of the predominant auxin, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and IAA biosynthetic intermediates revealed that IAA levels are elevated in a salt-specific manner through increased IAA biosynthesis. Furthermore, the expression of NITRILASE 2 (NIT2), which hydrolyses indole-3-acetonitile (IAN) into IAA, increased in a salt-specific manner. Overexpression of NIT2 resulted in increased IAA levels, improved Na:K ratios and enhanced survival and growth of Arabidopsis under saline conditions. Overall, our data suggest that auxin is involved in maintaining growth during the ionic stress imposed by saline conditions.



IAA, auxin, growth, ionic, osmotic, plant, salinity, salt stress

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Front Plant Sci

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Frontiers Media SA