Increasing cyclic electron flow is related to Na+ sequestration into vacuoles for salt tolerance in soybean

J Exp Bot. 2015 Nov;66(21):6877-89. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erv392. Epub 2015 Aug 14.


In land plants, the NAD(P)H dehydrogenase (NDH) complex reduces plastoquinones and drives cyclic electron flow (CEF) around PSI. It also produces extra ATP for photosynthesis and improves plant fitness under conditions of abiotic environmental stress. To elucidate the role of CEF in salt tolerance of the photosynthetic apparatus, Na(+) concentration, chlorophyll fluorescence, and expression of NDH B and H subunits, as well as of genes related to cellular and vacuolar Na(+) transport, were monitored. The salt-tolerant Glycine max (soybean) variety S111-9 exhibited much higher CEF activity and ATP accumulation in light than did the salt-sensitive variety Melrose, but similar leaf Na(+) concentrations under salt stress. In S111-9 plants, ndhB and ndhH were highly up-regulated under salt stress and their corresponding proteins were maintained at high levels or increased significantly. Under salt stress, S111-9 plants accumulated Na(+) in the vacuole, but Melrose plants accumulated Na(+) in the chloroplast. Compared with Melrose, S111-9 plants also showed higher expression of some genes associated with Na(+) transport into the vacuole and/or cell, such as genes encoding components of the CBL10 (calcineurin B-like protein 10)-CIPK24 (CBL-interacting protein kinase 24)-NHX (Na(+)/H(+) antiporter) and CBL4 (calcineurin B-like protein 4)-CIPK24-SOS1 (salt overly sensitive 1) complexes. Based on the findings, it is proposed that enhanced NDH-dependent CEF supplies extra ATP used to sequester Na(+) in the vacuole. This reveals an important mechanism for salt tolerance in soybean and provides new insights into plant resistance to salt stress.

Keywords: ATP; CEF; NDH complex; Na+ accumulation; soybean..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / biosynthesis*
  • Electron Transport
  • Mesophyll Cells / metabolism
  • NADPH Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • NADPH Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Salt Tolerance*
  • Sodium / metabolism*
  • Soybeans / genetics
  • Soybeans / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Vacuoles / metabolism


  • Plant Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Sodium
  • NADPH Dehydrogenase