Takahashi F, Tilbrook J, Trittermann C, Berger B, Roy SJ, Seki M, Shinozaki K, Tester M. (2015) Comparison of Leaf Sheath Transcriptome Profiles with Physiological Traits of Bread Wheat Cultivars under Salinity Stress. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0133322. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133322
Salinity stress has significant negative effects on plant biomass production and crop yield. Salinity tolerance is controlled by complex systems of gene expression and ion transport. The relationship between specific features of mild salinity stress adaptation and gene expression was analyzed using four commercial varieties of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) that have different levels of salinity tolerance. The high-throughput phenotyping system in The Plant Accelerator at the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility revealed variation in shoot relative growth rate and salinity tolerance among the four cultivars. Comparative analysis of gene expression in the leaf sheaths identified genes whose functions are potentially linked to shoot biomass development and salinity tolerance. Early responses to mild salinity stress through changes in gene expression have an influence on the acquisition of stress tolerance and improvement in biomass accumulation during the early “osmotic” phase of salinity stress. In addition, results revealed transcript profiles for the wheat cultivars that were different from those of usual stress-inducible genes, but were related to those of plant growth. These findings suggest that, in the process of breeding, selection of specific traits with various salinity stress-inducible genes in commercial bread wheat has led to adaptation to mild salinity conditions.