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Plant cell biologists from the University of Amsterdam have studied the changes induced in plant roots when exposed to high salt concentrations. The researchers measured different root traits and developed an app allowing interactive exploration of collected data. Their results are published in the Plant Cell.

Arabidopsis seedling
Saltstress effect on roots. Image: UvA

The research provides a better understanding of effective root remodeling responses, and the genetic components involved, for plant performance in stress conditions. Soil salinity is highly detrimental to plants. Plants respond by a redistribution of root mass between main and lateral roots, yet the genetic machinery underlying this process is still largely unknown.

Root system architecture

Researchers Magdalena Julkowsk, Iko Tamar Koevoets  and colleagues led by Christa Testerink from the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences examined salt stress-induced changes in Root System Architecture by studying 347 Arabidopsis variants collected worldwide.

The authors measured 17 Root System Architecture traits, identifying among others traits involved in maintenance of lateral root growth during salt stress. Their studies revealed that while retention of salt ions in the root is an excellent mechanism of salinity tolerance in larger plants, it is detrimental for the development of young seedlings.

Publication details

Magdalena Julkowska, Iko Tamar Koevoets, Selena Mol, Huub CJ Hoefsloot, Richard Feron, Mark Tester, Joost J.B. Keurentjes, Arthur Korte, Michel A Haring, Gert-Jan de Boer, Christa Testerink (Nov 2017) Genetic Components of Root Architecture Remodeling in Response to Salt Stress. The Plant Cell Vol. 29, Issue 11 DOI: