Modification of DNA methylation status is one of the mechanisms used by plants to adjust gene expression at both the transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels when plants are exposed to suboptimal conditions. Under abiotic stress, different cultivars often show heritable phenotypic variation accompanied by epigenetic polymorphisms at the DNA methylation level. This variation may provide the raw materials for plant breeding programs that aim to enhance abiotic stress tolerance, including salt tolerance.
The present study was conducted to evaluate the responses of three annual Medicago species (M. truncatula, M. laciniata, and M. polymorpha) to salinity. We analyzed publicly available microarray data in NCBI pertaining to salinity-response genes in M. truncatula. Our data search identified Tubby C2 (TLP) and ethylene responsive transcription factor 1 (ERF1) as genes that potentially respond to salinity.
Plants exposed to certain abiotic stress conditions tend to produce the amino acid proline, which acts as an active osmolyte, a metal chelator, an antioxidant, and a signaling molecule. There is increasing evidence that proline accumulates in plants due to a wide range of abiotic stress, in particular high soil salinity and drought. Therefore, proline content is often used as a marker-assisted breeding tool aimed at improving drought and salinity tolerance.