Panta, S and Flowers, T and Lane, P and Doyle, R and Haros, G and Shabala, S, Halophyte agriculture: success stories, Environmental and Experimental Botany, 107 pp. 71-83. ISSN 0098-8472 (2014) [Refereed Article]
The world's food production will need to increase by up to 70% by 2050 to match the predicted population growth. Achieving this goal will be challenging due to the decreased availability of arable land, resulting from urbanization and land degradation. Soil salinity is a major factor contributing to the latter process. While some improvement in crop yields in saline soils may be achieved as a consequence of single gene transfers, the real progress may be achieved only via a painfully slow "pyramiding" of essential physiological traits. Given the time constraints, a safer solution to meet the 2050 challenge may be to find alternative crop and forage species for farming in salt-affected conditions and to restore salt-affected areas. This review focuses on the suitability of halophytes to become important components of 21st century farming systems. We provide a comprehensive summary of the current use of halophytes for human food consumption, for forage and animal feeds, as oilseed and energy crops, and for desalination and phytoremediation purposes. We argue that the use of halophytes may be a viable commercial alternative to ease pressure on the requirement of good quality land and water for conventional cropping systems and the utilization of land degraded by salinity.