Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Expressing Arabidopsis thaliana V-ATPase subunit C in barley (Hordeum vulgare) improves plant performance under saline condition by enabling better osmotic adjustment

Getnet D. Adem A , Stuart J. Roy B C , Yuqing Huang D , Zhong-Hua Chen D , Feifei Wang A , Meixue Zhou A , John P. Bowman A , Paul Holford D and Sergey Shabala A E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 54, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

B Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, Private Mail Bag 1, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

C School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide, Private Mail Bag 1, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

D School of Science and Health, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: sergey.shabala@utas.edu.au

Functional Plant Biology 44(12) 1147-1159 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP17133
Submitted: 4 May 2017  Accepted: 28 July 2017   Published: 27 September 2017

Abstract

Salinity is a global problem affecting agriculture that results in an estimated US$27 billion loss in revenue per year. Overexpression of vacuolar ATPase subunits has been shown to be beneficial in improving plant performance under saline conditions. Most studies, however, have not shown whether overexpression of genes encoding ATPase subunits results in improvements in grain yield, and have not investigated the physiological mechanisms behind the improvement in plant growth. In this study, we constitutively expressed Arabidopsis Vacuolar ATPase subunit C (AtVHA-C) in barley. Transgenic plants were assessed for agronomical and physiological characteristics, such as fresh and dry biomass, leaf pigment content, stomatal conductance, grain yield, and leaf Na+ and K+ concentration, when grown in either 0 or 300 mM NaCl. When compared with non-transformed barley, AtVHA-C expressing barley lines had a smaller reduction in both biomass and grain yield under salinity stress. The transgenic lines accumulated Na+ and K+ in leaves for osmotic adjustment. This in turn saves energy consumed in the synthesis of organic osmolytes that otherwise would be needed for osmotic adjustment.

Additional keywords: organic osmolytes, osmotic adjustment, potassium, salinity stress tolerance, sodium, vacuolar sequestration.


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