Identification of Proteins Involved in Salinity Tolerance in Salicornia bigelovii

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


With a global growing demand in food production, agricultural output must increase accordingly. An increased use of saline soils and brackish water would contribute to the required increase in world food production. Abiotic stresses, such as salinity and drought, are also major limiters of crop growth globally - most crops are relatively salt sensitive and are significantly affected when exposed to salt in the range of 50 to 200 mM NaCl. Genomic resources from plants that naturally thrive in highly saline environments have the potential to be valuable in the generation of salt tolerant crops; however, these resources have been largely unexplored. Salicornia bigelovii is a plant native to Mexico and the United States that grows in salt marshes and coastal regions. It can thrive in environments with salt concentrations higher than seawater. In contrast to most crops, S. bigelovii is able to accumulate very high concentrations (in the order of 1.5 M) of Na+ and Cl- in its photosynthetically active succulent shoots. Part of this tolerance is likely to include the storage of Na+ in the vacuoles of the shoots, making S. bigelovii a good model for understanding mechanisms of Na+ compartmentalization in the vacuoles and a good resource for gene discovery. In this research project, phenotypic, genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic approaches have been used for the identification of candidate genes involved in salinity tolerance in S. bigelovii. The genomes and transcriptomes of three Salicornia species have been sequenced. This information has been used to support the characterization of the salt-induced transcriptome of S. bigelovii shoots and the salt-induced proteome of various organellar membrane enriched fractions from S. bigelovii shoots, which led to the creation of organellar membrane proteomes. Yeast spot assays at different salt concentrations revealed several proteins increasing or decreasing yeast salt tolerance. This work aims to create the basis for Salicornia research by providing a genome, transcriptomes, and organellar proteomes, contributing to salinity tolerance research overall. We identified a set of candidate genes for salinity tolerance with the aim of shedding some light on the mechanisms by which this plant thrives in highly saline environments.
Date of AwardNov 2017
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorMark Tester (Supervisor)


  • Salicornia
  • ion accumulation
  • salt stress
  • membrane proteomics

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