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Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2008 Jun;21(6):737-44. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-21-6-0737.

Soil bacteria confer plant salt tolerance by tissue-specific regulation of the sodium transporter HKT1.

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Texas Tech University, Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biology Lubbock 79409, U.S.A.


Elevated sodium (Na(+)) decreases plant growth and, thereby, agricultural productivity. The ion transporter high-affinity K(+) transporter (HKT)1 controls Na(+) import in roots, yet dysfunction or overexpression of HKT1 fails to increase salt tolerance, raising questions as to HKT1's role in regulating Na(+) homeostasis. Here, we report that tissue-specific regulation of HKT1 by the soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis GB03 confers salt tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. Under salt stress (100 mM NaCl), GB03 concurrently down- and upregulates HKT1 expression in roots and shoots, respectively, resulting in lower Na(+) accumulation throughout the plant compared with controls. Consistent with HKT1 participation in GB03-induced salt tolerance, GB03 fails to rescue salt-stressed athkt1 mutants from stunted foliar growth and elevated total Na(+) whereas salt-stressed Na(+) export mutants sos3 show GB03-induced salt tolerance with enhanced shoot and root growth as well as reduced total Na(+). These results demonstrate that tissue-specific regulation of HKT1 is critical for managing Na(+) homeostasis in salt-stressed plants, as well as underscore the breadth and sophistication of plant-microbe interactions.

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