Under supervision of Eva van Zelm (Eva.vanZelm@wur.nl)

Aim: Investigate the role of a potential potassium transport regulator under salt stress

By now, an estimate of 20% of the worldwide irrigated land is affected by high salt concentrations. This has negatively affects agriculture, because sodium decreases plant growth. Sodium ions cause two types of stresses in plants; osmotic and ionic stress. The ionic stress is partly caused by a competition of sodium with potassium. Potassium is a cofactor for various enzymes. When sodium enters the plant, it competes with potassium, but when it replaces sodium it disrupts enzyme function:

You can imagine that it is beneficial for plants to keep the intracellular potassium concentration high during salt stress. We found a mutation in a gene that results in potassium related phenotypes during salt stress. Now we want to understand the cellular function of this protein and understand how it is able to alter the amount of potassium in plants exposed to salt.

Techniques:

  • Cloning, Protein assays
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Phenotyping (e.a. measuring stomata opening)