Counteracting soil sterility with plants tolerant to high salt concentrations

New research coordinated by Raffaele Dello Ioio of Sapienza University of Rome has identified the molecular mechanism that inhibits root development when a plant is in high-salt soil. The study, published in Communications Biology, may lead to the development of plants that can survive and have high yields even when exposed to this mineral

As an effect of global warming, climatic conditions in many areas of the world are radically changing, increasing the areas subject to soil drying or flooding. These changes cause an increase in soil salinity making many arable areas almost completely unproductive. As a matter of fact, the increase of salt in the soil inhibits plant growth causing a significant reduction in agricultural yield.

The first organ that comes into contact with salt in the soil is the root: from this, it propagates signals that generate multiple anomalies in the development of the whole plant that lead to death.

A new study coordinated by researchers from the Charles Darwin Department of Biology and Biotechnology of Sapienza University of Rome has combined experiments in molecular biology, genetics and computational biology to identify the molecular mechanism that inhibits root growth when a plant is exposed to high salt concentrations. The results of the work have been published in the journal Communications Biology.

The research team used the well-known model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, commonly known as Thale Cress, to understand how the chemical, physical and mechanical conditions of the soil interfere with the development of the root, thereby altering the development of the plant as a whole.

'This study,' says Raffaele Dello Ioio, 'is seminal for the future production of plants resistant to high salt concentrations. It is indeed plausible that by making the roots of plants insensitive to the presence of salt in the soil, they will be able to survive and have high agricultural yields even when exposed to this mineral'.


microRNA165 and 166 modulate response of the Arabidopsis root apical meristem to salt stress - Daria Scintu, Emanuele Scacchi, Francesca Cazzaniga, Federico Vinciarelli, Mirko De Vivo, Margaryta Shtin, Noemi Svolacchia, Gaia Bertolotti, Simon Josef Unterholzner, Marta Del Bianco, Marja Timmermans, Riccardo Di Mambro, Paola Vittorioso, Sabrina Sabatini, Paolo Costantino & Raffaele Dello Ioio - Communications Biology (2023)

Further Information

Raffaele Dello Ioio 
Charles Darwin Department of Biology and Biotechnology 


Tuesday, 12 September 2023

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