Development and evaluation of novel salt-tolerant Eucalyptus trees by molecular breeding using an RNA-Binding-Protein gene derived from common ice plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum L.)

Plant Biotechnol J. 2019 Apr;17(4):801-811. doi: 10.1111/pbi.13016. Epub 2018 Oct 12.


The breeding of plantation forestry trees for the possible afforestation of marginal land would be one approach to addressing global warming issues. Here, we developed novel transgenic Eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh.) harbouring an RNA-Binding-Protein (McRBP) gene derived from a halophyte plant, common ice plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum L.). We conducted screened-house trials of the transgenic Eucalyptus using two different stringency salinity stress conditions to evaluate the plants' acute and chronic salt stress tolerances. Treatment with 400 mM NaCl, as the high-stringency salinity stress, resulted in soil electrical conductivity (EC) levels >20 mS/cm within 4 weeks. With the 400 mM NaCl treatment, >70% of the transgenic plants were intact, whereas >40% of the non-transgenic plants were withered. Treatment with 70 mM NaCl, as the moderate-stringency salinity stress, resulted in soil EC levels of approx. 9 mS/cm after 2 months, and these salinity levels were maintained for the next 4 months. All plants regardless of transgenic or non-transgenic status survived the 70 mM NaCl treatment, but after 6-month treatment the transgenic plants showed significantly higher growth and quantum yield of photosynthesis levels compared to the non-transgenic plants. In addition, the salt accumulation in the leaves of the transgenic plants was 30% lower than that of non-transgenic plants after 15-week moderate salt stress treatment. There results suggest that McRBP expression in the transgenic Eucalyptus enhances their salt tolerance both acutely and chronically.

Keywords: Eucalyptus camaldulensis; Mesembryanthemum crystallinum; RNA binding protein; common ice plant; salt tolerance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Shuffling
  • Eucalyptus / genetics*
  • Eucalyptus / physiology
  • Mesembryanthemum / genetics*
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / physiology
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Salinity
  • Salt Tolerance
  • Salt-Tolerant Plants
  • Sodium Chloride / adverse effects
  • Trees


  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Sodium Chloride