Wheat grain yield on saline soils is improved by an ancestral Na + transporter gene

Rana Munns, Richard A. James, Bo Xu, Asmini Athman, Simon J. Conn, Charlotte Jordans, Caitlin S. Byrt, Ray A. Hare, Stephen D. Tyerman, Mark Tester, Darren Plett, Matthew Gilliham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

492 Citations (Scopus)


The ability of wheat to maintain a low sodium concentration ([Na +]) in leaves correlates with improved growth under saline conditions. This trait, termed Na + exclusion, contributes to the greater salt tolerance of bread wheat relative to durum wheat. To improve the salt tolerance of durum wheat, we explored natural diversity in shoot Na + exclusion within ancestral wheat germplasm. Previously, we showed that crossing of Nax2, a gene locus in the wheat relative Triticum monococcum into a commercial durum wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. durum var. Tamaroi) reduced its leaf [Na +] (ref. 5). Here we show that a gene in the Nax2 locus, TmHKT1;5-A, encodes a Na +-selective transporter located on the plasma membrane of root cells surrounding xylem vessels, which is therefore ideally localized to withdraw Na + from the xylem and reduce transport of Na + to leaves. Field trials on saline soils demonstrate that the presence of TmHKT1;5-A significantly reduces leaf [Na +] and increases durum wheat grain yield by 25% compared to near-isogenic lines without the Nax2 locus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-364
Number of pages5
JournalNature Biotechnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


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