Halophytes are able to thrive in salt concentrations that would kill 99% of other plant species, and identifying their salt-adap-tive mechanisms has great potential for improving the tolerance of crop plants to salinized soils. Much research has focused on the physiological basis of halophyte salt tolerance, whereas the elucidation of molecular mechanisms has traditionally lagged behind due to the absence of a model halophyte system. However, over the last decade and a half, two Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) relatives, Eutrema salsugineum and Schrenkiella parvula, have been established as transformation-competent models with various genetic resources including high-quality genome assemblies. These models have facilitated powerful comparative analyses with salt-sensitive Arabidopsis to unravel the genetic adaptations that enable a halophytic lifestyle. The aim of this review is to explore what has been learned about halophytism using E. salsugineum and S. parvula. We consider evidence from physiological and molecular studies suggesting that differences in salt tolerance between related halophytes and salt-sensitive plants are associated with alterations in the regulation of basic physiological, biochemical, and molecular processes. Furthermore, we discuss how salt tolerance mechanisms of the halophytic models are reflected at the level of their genomes, where evolutionary processes such as subfunctionalization and/or neofunctionalization have altered the expression and/or functions of genes to facilitate adaptation to saline conditions. Lastly, we summarize the many areas of research still to be addressed with E. salsugineum and S. parvula as well as obstacles hindering further progress in understanding halophytism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science