Oxidative Defense Metabolites Induced by Salinity Stress in Roots of Salicornia Herbacea

J Plant Physiol. 2016 Nov 1;206:133-142. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2016.08.015. Epub 2016 Sep 29.


High salinity is a major abiotic stress that affects the growth and development of plants. This type of stress can influence flowering, the production of crops, defense mechanisms and other physiological processes. Previous studies have attempted to elucidate salt-tolerance mechanisms to improve plant growth and productivity in the presence of sodium chloride. One such plant that has been studied in detail is Salicornia, a well-known halophyte, which has adapted to grow in the presence of high salt. To further the understanding of how Salicornia grows and develops under high saline conditions, Salicornia herbacea (S. herbacea) was grown under varying saline concentrations (0, 50, 100, 200, 300, and 400mM), and the resulting phenotype, ion levels, and metabolites were investigated. The optimal condition for the growth of S. herbacea was determined to be 100mM NaCl, and increased salt concentrations directly decreased the internal concentrations of other inorganic ions including Ca2+, K+, and Mg2+. Metabolomics were performed on the roots of the plant as a systematic metabolomics study has not yet been reported for Salicornia roots. Using ethylacetate and methanol extraction followed by high resolution ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS), 1793 metabolites were identified at different NaCl levels. Structural and functional analyses demonstrated that the concentration of 53 metabolites increased as the concentration of NaCl increased. These metabolites have been linked to stress responses, primarily oxidative stress responses, which increase under saline stress. Most metabolites can be classified as polyols, alkaloids, and steroids. Functional studies of these metabolites show that shikimic acid, vitamin K1, and indole-3-carboxylic acid are generated as a result of defense mechanisms, including the shikimate pathway, to protect against reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by salt stress. This metabolite profiling provides valuable information on the salt-tolerance mechanisms of S. herbacea and may be applied to bioengineer plants with improved salt tolerance.

Keywords: Halophyte; ROS defense mechanism; Salicornia herbacea; Salt-tolerance.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / metabolism
  • Amino Acids, Aromatic / metabolism
  • Chenopodiaceae / drug effects
  • Chenopodiaceae / growth & development
  • Chenopodiaceae / metabolism*
  • Chenopodiaceae / physiology
  • Indoles / metabolism
  • Metabolome* / drug effects
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Plant Roots / drug effects
  • Plant Roots / metabolism*
  • Polymers / metabolism
  • Salinity*
  • Salt Tolerance* / drug effects
  • Salt-Tolerant Plants / drug effects
  • Salt-Tolerant Plants / metabolism
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects*


  • Alkaloids
  • Amino Acids, Aromatic
  • Indoles
  • Polymers
  • polyol
  • Sodium Chloride
  • indole-3-carboxylic acid