Under supervision of Yutao Zou (Yutao.Zou@wur.nl)

Aim: Functional characterization of novel genes in plant salt sensing.

In response to soil salinization, plants have evolved adaptive abilities to survive through salt sensing, salt-signal integration, and processing. Salt sensing is the initial step in salt-stress signalling pathways that may control plan salt tolerance. However, how plants sense sodium ions is largely unknown, which is a big knowledge gap, that needs to be addressed to open up new ways to improve global crop yield.

Sodium-inhibited root gravitropism is a good reporter for plant salt sensing (Testerink group, unpublished). This phenotyping method has been combined with a genome wide association study (GWAS) approach to identify the genetic components responsible for plant salt sensing and early signaling (Zou et al, unpublished).  The GWAS results revealed candidate loci which have potential roles in salt signalling pathways. Next, we would like to validate the candidate loci by testing the phenotypes of knock-out mutants of the candidate genes by using plant phenotyping assays. The verified candidates will get further explored for their roles in salt sensing pathways.

Used techniques:

  • Phenotyping: root tilting assay (time-lapse & marker)
  • Plant genotyping: primer design, DNA isolation, PCR
  • Molecular biology: qRT-PCR Data analysis: using SmartRoot software, R & Python in data analysis