Policy / Systems / Technology

February 8, 2018


RIKEN Study Successfully Enhances Tolerance of Plants to Salt Stress

Keywords: Environmental Technology Food 

Image by hidewaku Some Rights Reserved.

The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN) in Japan announced on November 7, 2017, that a team at the Center for Sustainable Resource Science has discovered that a histone deacetylase (HDAC) enzyme is linked to plants' tolerance of salt. Efforts to develop high-salinity tolerant plants are being made because salt damage leads to declines in crop yield and desertification.

RIKEN has been studying how plants' salt tolerance could be enhanced through epigenetic regulation such as DNA methylation and histone acetylation or methylation, which involve chemically regulating gene activities without dependence on altering the gene sequence.

Using Arabidopsis as a model plant, the team's latest study found that inhibiting the function of HDA19, one of the HDAC which forms the Arabidopsis gene family, enhances salinity tolerance. Meanwhile, inhibiting an HDAC of the other class makes the plant more sensitive to salt stress. The team also found that mutagenesis of HDA19 by genome editing masks this hypersensitive response.

These findings collectively demonstrate that HDAC inhibition is linked to improved salt tolerance in plants, and represent a step forward in the development of an HDAC inhibitor for selectively regulating plants' HDAC and enhancing their environmental stress tolerance. If put to use, such an inhibitor could be sprayed on crops to prevent salt damage.