Research Article

Ectopic expression of Arabidopsis thaliana Na+(K+)/H+ antiporter gene, AtNHX5, enhances soybean salt tolerance

Abstract

Drought and salt stresses are the two major factors influencing the yield and quality of crops worldwide. Na+(K+)/H+ antiporters (NHXs) are ubiquitous membrane proteins that play important roles in maintaining the cellular pH and Na+(K+) homeostasis. The model plant Arabidopsis potentially encodes six NHX genes, namely AtNHX1 to 6. In the present study, AtNHX5, a comparatively less well-studied NHX, was cloned and transferred into a soybean variety, Dongnong-50, via Agrobacterium-mediated cotyledonary node transformation to assess its role in improving salt tolerance of the transgenic plants. The transgenic soybean plants were tolerant to the presence of 300 mM NaCl whereas the non-transgenic plants were not. Furthermore, after NaCl treatment, the transgenic plants had a higher content of free proline but lower content of malondialdehyde compared to the non-transgenic plants. Our results revealed that that AtNHX5 possibly functioned by efficiently transporting Na+ and K+ ions from the roots to the leaves. Overall, the results obtained in this study suggest that soybean salt tolerance could be improved through the over expression of Arabidopsis AtNHX5.

Drought and salt stresses are the two major factors influencing the yield and quality of crops worldwide. Na+(K+)/H+ antiporters (NHXs) are ubiquitous membrane proteins that play important roles in maintaining the cellular pH and Na+(K+) homeostasis. The model plant Arabidopsis potentially encodes six NHX genes, namely AtNHX1 to 6. In the present study, AtNHX5, a comparatively less well-studied NHX, was cloned and transferred into a soybean variety, Dongnong-50, via Agrobacterium-mediated cotyledonary node transformation to assess its role in improving salt tolerance of the transgenic plants. The transgenic soybean plants were tolerant to the presence of 300 mM NaCl whereas the non-transgenic plants were not. Furthermore, after NaCl treatment, the transgenic plants had a higher content of free proline but lower content of malondialdehyde compared to the non-transgenic plants. Our results revealed that that AtNHX5 possibly functioned by efficiently transporting Na+ and K+ ions from the roots to the leaves. Overall, the results obtained in this study suggest that soybean salt tolerance could be improved through the over expression of Arabidopsis AtNHX5.