Receptor-Like Cytoplasmic Kinase STK Confers Salt Tolerance in Rice

Rice (N Y). 2023 Apr 21;16(1):21. doi: 10.1186/s12284-023-00637-0.


Background: Soil salinization is a major abiotic environmental stress factor threatening crop production throughout the world. Salt stress drastically affects the growth, development, and grain yield of rice (Oryza sativa L.), and the improvement of rice tolerance to salt stress is a desirable approach for meeting increasing food demand. Receptor-like cytoplasmic kinases (RLCKs) play essential roles in plant growth, development and responses to environmental stresses. However, little is known about their functions in salt stress. Previous reports have demonstrated that overexpression of an RLCK gene SALT TOLERANCE KINASE (STK) enhances salt tolerance in rice, and that STK may regulate the expression of GST (Glutathione S-transferase) genes.

Results: The expression of STK was rapidly induced by ABA. STK was highest expressed in the stem at the heading stage. STK was localized at the plasma membrane. Overexpression of STK in rice increased tolerance to salt stress and oxidative stress by increasing ROS scavenging ability and ABA sensitivity. In contrast, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of STK increased the sensitivity of rice to salt stress and oxidative stress. Transcriptome sequencing analysis suggested that STK increased the expression of GST genes (LOC_Os03g17480, LOC_Os10g38140 and LOC_Os10g38710) under salt stress. Reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) suggested that four stress-related genes may be regulated by STK including OsABAR1, Os3BGlu6, OSBZ8 and OsSIK1.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that STK plays a positive regulatory role in salt stress tolerance by inducing antioxidant defense and associated with the ABA signaling pathway in rice.

Keywords: ABA; ROS scavenging; Rice; STK; Salt stress.