Soil salinity is a major abiotic stress in plant agriculture worldwide. This has led to research into salt tolerance with the aim of improving crop plants. However, salt tolerance might have much wider implications because transgenic salt-tolerant plants often also tolerate other stresses including chilling, freezing, heat and drought. Unfortunately, suitable genetic model systems have been hard to find. A recently discovered halophytic plant species, Thellungiella halophila, now promises to help in the detection of new tolerance determinants and operating pathways in a model system that is not limited to Arabidopsis traits or ecotype variations.