High-Throughput Non-destructive Phenotyping of Traits that Contribute to Salinity Tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana

Mariam Sahal Abdulaziz Awlia, Arianna Nigro, Jiří Fajkus, Sandra Manuela Schmoeckel, Sónia Negrão, Diana Santelia, Martin Trtílek, Mark A. Tester, Magdalena Julkowska, Klára Panzarová

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107 Scopus citations


Reproducible and efficient high-throughput phenotyping approaches, combined with advances in genome sequencing, are facilitating the discovery of genes affecting plant performance. Salinity tolerance is a desirable trait that can be achieved through breeding, where most have aimed at selecting for plants that perform effective ion exclusion from the shoots. To determine overall plant performance under salt stress, it is helpful to investigate several plant traits collectively in one experimental setup. Hence, we developed a quantitative phenotyping protocol using a high-throughput phenotyping system, with RGB and chlorophyll fluorescence (ChlF) imaging, which captures the growth, morphology, color and photosynthetic performance of Arabidopsis thaliana plants in response to salt stress. We optimized our salt treatment by controlling the soil-water content prior to introducing salt stress. We investigated these traits over time in two accessions in soil at 150, 100, or 50 mM NaCl to find that the plants subjected to 100 mM NaCl showed the most prominent responses in the absence of symptoms of severe stress. In these plants, salt stress induced significant changes in rosette area and morphology, but less prominent changes in rosette coloring and photosystem II efficiency. Clustering of ChlF traits with plant growth of nine accessions maintained at 100 mM NaCl revealed that in the early stage of salt stress, salinity tolerance correlated with non-photochemical quenching processes and during the later stage, plant performance correlated with quantum yield. This integrative approach allows the simultaneous analysis of several phenotypic traits. In combination with various genetic resources, the phenotyping protocol described here is expected to increase our understanding of plant performance and stress responses, ultimately identifying genes that improve plant performance in salt stress conditions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Issue numberSeptember2016
StatePublished - Sep 28 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The research reported in this publication was supported by funding from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no GA-2013-608422 – IDP BRIDGES.


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