Plant biotechnology_Genetic engineering to enhance plant salt tolerance

Plant biotechnology_Genetic engineering to enhance plant salt tolerance

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JOURNAL OF BIOSCIENCE AND BIOENGINEERING Vol. 94, No. 6, 585-590.2002 REVIEW Plant Biotechnology - Genetic Engineering to Enhance Plant Salt Tolerance KAZUYA YOSHIDA’ Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Nara Institute of Science and Technology 8916-5 Takuyama-cho, Ikoma-shi, Nara 630-0101, Japan’ Received 8 August 2002iAccepted 26 August 2002 Plants not only provide food to humans and animals, but also provide a large number of non- food products of industrial and chemical importance. Moreover, they have the ability to purify the air, soil and water on the earth. Various trials to genetically improve the potential of plants are ac- tively in progress. Salt-tolerance would be an especially important ability to bestow upon plants for agricultural and industrial purposes, because high salinity conditions are ubiquitous on earth and represent major barriers to growth. Enhancement of resistance against both hyper-osmotic stress and Na’ toxity is necessary for successful molecular breeding of salt tolerant plants. Intro- duction of genes for osmolyte bio-synthesis is useful to increase hyperosmotic tolerance of plant cells. It is introduced in this review that genetically engineered ectoine synthesis results in in- creased hyperosmotic tolerance of tobacco cells. High concentrations of Na+ reduce cellular activ- ity by interfering with vital Na’-sensitive enzymes and by affecting K’ transport. Understanding the regulation of K’ and Na’ homeostasis is thus indispensable for enhancement of plant Na’ tol- erance. My research group is investigating the Na+ efflux activity of the yeast Na’-ATPase (Enal) when installed in the plasma membrane of plant cells, and the rice K+-Na’ co-transporters (HKT) that contribute to the regulation of K’ and Na’ uptake in root cells. [Key words: transgenic plant, hyper-osmotic stress, ectoine, Na’-ATPase, K+-Na+ co-transporter, K’ and Na’ homeostasis] The earth is facing the prospect of a number of future critical problems, among them the destruction of the envi- ronment, massive food shortages, and the exhaustion of fos- sil fuel supplies. In order to avert these disasters, which are direct consequences of the technological development of the 20th century, the world is turning to biotechnology for solutions. Plant biotechnology in particular may be an enor- mous help, because plants, besides being important re- sources for foods, industrial raw materials and energy, also possess the inherent ability to purify the earth’s air, soil and water. Rapid advances in plant genetic engineering have made it possible to improve endogenous metabolic path- ways and/or bestow foreign functions. Useful genes can be introduced into host plants in most cases by Agrobacterium- mediated transformation (1). Additionally, transgene expres- sion systems utilizing various promoters have been pre- pared in plants (2). Transgenic plants are also gaining
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Plant biotechnology_Genetic engineering to enhance plant salt tolerance

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