Key message Expression of a truncated form of wheat TdSOS1 in Arabidopsis exhibited an improved salt tolerance. This finding provides new hints about this protein that can be considered as a salt tolerance determinant.
Abstract The SOS signaling pathway has emerged as a key mechanism in preserving the homeostasis of Na? and K? under saline conditions. We have recently identified and functionally characterized, by complementation studies in yeast, the gene encoding the durum wheat plasma membrane Na?/H? antiporter (TdSOS1). To extend these functional studies to the whole plant level, we complemented Arabidopsis sos1-1 mutant with wild-type TdSOS1 or with the hyperactive form TdSOS1D972 and compared them to the Arabidopsis AtSOS1 protein. The Arabidopsis sos1-1 mutant is hypersensitive to both Na? and Li? ions.
Compared with sos1-1 mutant transformed with the empty binary vector, seeds from TdSOS1 or TdSOS1D972 transgenic plants had better germination under salt stress and more robust seedling growth in agar plates as well as in nutritive solution containing Na? or Li? salts. The root elongation of TdSOS1D972 transgenic lines was higher than that of Arabidopsis sos1-1 mutant transformed with TdSOS1 or with the endogenous AtSOS1 gene. Under salt stress, TdSOS1D972 transgenic lines showed greater water retention capacity and retained low Na? and high K? in their shoots and roots. Our data showed that the hyperactive form TdSOS1D972 conferred a significant ionic stress tolerance to Arabidopsis plants and suggest that selection of hyperactive alleles of the SOS1 transport protein may pave the way for obtaining salt-tolerant crops.