Soil salinity affects a large proportion of the land worldwide, forcing plants to evolve a number of mechanisms to cope with salt stress. Cytokinin plays a role in the plant response to salt stress, but little is known about the mechanism by which cytokinin controls this process. We used a molecular genetics approach to examine the influence of cytokinin on sodium accumulation and salt sensitivity in Arabidopsis thaliana. Cytokinin application was found to increase sodium accumulation in the shoots of Arabidopsis, but had no significant affect on the sodium content in the roots. Consistent with this, altered sodium accumulation phenotypes were observed in mutants of each gene class of the cytokinin signal transduction pathway, including receptors, phospho-transfer proteins, and type-A and type-B response regulators. Expression of the gene encoding Arabidopsis high-affinity K(+) transporter 1;1 (AtHKT1;1), a gene responsible for removing sodium ions from the root xylem, was repressed by cytokinin treatment, but showed significantly elevated expression in the cytokinin response double mutant arr1-3 arr12-1. Our data suggest that cytokinin, acting through the transcription factors ARR1 and ARR12, regulates sodium accumulation in the shoots by controlling the expression of AtHKT1;1 in the roots.
© 2010 The Authors. The Plant Journal © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.