Salt stress or salt shock: Which genes are we studying?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

134 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Depending on the method of NaCl application, whether gradual or in a single step, plants may experience either salt stress or salt shock, respectively. The first phase of salt stress is osmotic stress. However, in the event of salt shock, plants suffer osmotic shock, leading to cell plasmolysis and leakage of osmolytes, phenomena that do not occur with osmotic stress. Patterns of gene expression are different in response to salt stress and salt shock. Salt stress initiates relatively smooth changes in gene expression in response to osmotic stress and a more pronounced change in expression of significant numbers of genes related to the ionic phase of salt stress. There is a considerable time delay between changes in expression of genes related to the osmotic and ionic phases of salt stress. In contrast, osmotic shock results in strong, rapid changes in the expression of genes with osmotic function, and fewer changes in ionic-responsive genes that occur earlier. There are very few studies in which the effects of salt stress and salt shock are described in parallel experiments. However, the patterns of changes in gene expression observed in these studies are consistently as described above, despite the use of diverse plant species. It is concluded that gene expression profiles are very different depending the method of salt application. Imposition of salt stress by gradual exposure to NaCl rather than salt shock with a single application of a high concentration of NaCl is recommended for genetic and molecular studies, because this more closely reflects natural incidences of salinity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Volume64
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • gene expression
  • gradual salt application
  • osmotic shock
  • plasmolysis
  • salt shock
  • salt stress
  • sudden (single-step) salt application

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