Genetic mapping of the early responses to salt stress in Arabidopsis thaliana

Mariam Sahal Abdulaziz Awlia, Nouf Owdah Hameed Alshareef, Noha Saber, Arthur Korte, Helena Oakey, Klára Panzarová, Martin Trtílek, Sónia Negrão, Mark A. Tester, Magdalena M. Julkowska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Salt stress decreases plant growth prior to significant ion accumulation in the shoot. However, the processes underlying this rapid reduction in growth are still unknown. To understand the changes in salt stress responses through time and at multiple physiological levels, examining different plant processes within a single setup is required. Recent advances in phenotyping has allowed the image-based estimation of plant growth, morphology, colour and photosynthetic activity. In this study, we examined the salt stress-induced responses of 191 Arabidopsis accessions from one hour to seven days after treatment using high-throughput phenotyping. Multivariate analyses and machine learning algorithms identified that quantum yield measured in the light-adapted state (Fv´/Fm´) greatly affected growth maintenance in the early phase of salt stress, while maximum quantum yield (QY max) was crucial at a later stage. In addition, our genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified 770 loci that were specific to salt stress, in which two loci associated with QY max and Fv´/Fm´ were selected for validation using T-DNA insertion lines. We characterised an unknown protein kinase found in the QY max locus, which reduced photosynthetic efficiency and growth maintenance under salt stress. Understanding the molecular context of the identified candidate genes will provide valuable insights into the early plant responses to salt stress. Furthermore, our work incorporates high-throughput phenotyping, multivariate analyses and GWAS, uncovering details of temporal stress responses, while identifying associations across different traits and time points, which likely constitute the genetic components of salinity tolerance.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalThe Plant Journal
StatePublished - May 8 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-05-12
Acknowledgements: We thank King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for funding this work, and Photon Systems Instruments (PSI) for their scientific and technical support. Special thanks to Dr. Xavier Sirault (CSIRO, Australia) for suggesting the use of the saturation method for salt imposition, Radka Mezulániková and Jaromír Pytela (PSI, Czech Republic) for assisting with the phenotyping and Prof. Christa Testerink (UVA, Netherlands) for providing the HapMap seeds. We also thank the KAUST Greenhouse Core-lab personnel: Dr. Richard Soppe, Mr. Mupalla Reddy, Mr. Gomerito Sagun, Mr. John Rahmer, Mr. Thomas Hoover and Mr. Johnard Balangue for their
help in propagating the plant material that was used in this study and for running the highthroughput phenotyping facility at KAUST.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics


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