To exclude or to accumulate? Revealing the role of the sodium HKT1;5 transporter in plant adaptive responses to varying soil salinity
Venkataraman, G and Shabala, S and Very, AA and Hariharan, GN and Somasundaram, S and Pulipati, S and Sellamuthu, G and Harikrishnan, M and Kumari, K and Shabala, L and Zhou, Meixue and Chen, ZH, To exclude or to accumulate? Revealing the role of the sodium HKT1;5 transporter in plant adaptive responses to varying soil salinity, Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 169 pp. 333-342. ISSN 0981-9428 (2021) [Refereed Article]
Arid/semi-arid and coastal agricultural areas of the world are especially vulnerable to climate change-driven soil salinity. Salinity tolerance in plants is a complex trait, with salinity negatively affecting crop yield. Plants adopt a range of mechanisms to combat salinity, with many transporter genes being implicated in Na+-partitioning processes. Within these, the high-affinity K+ (HKT) family of transporters play a critical role in K+ and Na+homeostasis in plants. Among HKT transporters, Type I transporters are Na+-specific. While Arabidopsis has only one Na + -specific HKT (AtHKT1;1), cereal crops have a multiplicity of Type I and II HKT transporters. AtHKT1; 1 (Arabidopsis thaliana) and HKT1; 5 (cereal crops) 'exclude' Na+ from the xylem into xylem parenchyma in the root, reducing shoot Na+ and hence, confer sodium tolerance. However, more recent data from Arabidopsis and crop species show that AtHKT1;1/HKT1;5 alleles have a strong genetic association with 'shoot sodium accumulation' and concomitant salt tolerance. The review tries to resolve these two seemingly contradictory effects of AtHKT1;1/HKT1;5 operation (shoot exclusion vs shoot accumulation), both conferring salinity tolerance and suggests that contrasting phenotypes are attributable to either hyper-functional or weak AtHKT1;1/HKT1;5 alleles/haplotypes and are under strong selection by soil salinity levels. It also suggests that opposite balancing mechanisms involving xylem ion loading in these contrasting phenotypes exist that require transporters such as SOS1 and CCC. While HKT1; 5 is a crucial but not sole determinant of salinity tolerance, investigation of the adaptive benefit(s) conferred by naturally occurring intermediate HKT1;5 alleles will be important under a climate change scenario.