Mechanisms of salinity tolerance

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2008:59:651-81. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.59.032607.092911.


The physiological and molecular mechanisms of tolerance to osmotic and ionic components of salinity stress are reviewed at the cellular, organ, and whole-plant level. Plant growth responds to salinity in two phases: a rapid, osmotic phase that inhibits growth of young leaves, and a slower, ionic phase that accelerates senescence of mature leaves. Plant adaptations to salinity are of three distinct types: osmotic stress tolerance, Na(+) or Cl() exclusion, and the tolerance of tissue to accumulated Na(+) or Cl(). Our understanding of the role of the HKT gene family in Na(+) exclusion from leaves is increasing, as is the understanding of the molecular bases for many other transport processes at the cellular level. However, we have a limited molecular understanding of the overall control of Na(+) accumulation and of osmotic stress tolerance at the whole-plant level. Molecular genetics and functional genomics provide a new opportunity to synthesize molecular and physiological knowledge to improve the salinity tolerance of plants relevant to food production and environmental sustainability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hordeum / physiology
  • Oryza / physiology
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plant Shoots / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Sodium Chloride / metabolism
  • Thermodynamics


  • Sodium Chloride
  • Sodium