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posted on 05.03.2018 by Elide Formentin, Cristina Sudiro, Giorgio Perin, Samantha Riccadonna, Elisabetta Barizza, Elena Baldoni, Enrico Lavezzo, Piergiorgio Stevanato, Gian Attilio Sacchi, Paolo Fontana, Stefano Toppo, Tomas Morosinotto, Michela Zottini, Fiorella Lo Schiavo

Salinity tolerance has been extensively investigated in recent years due to its agricultural importance. Several features, such as the regulation of ionic transporters and metabolic adjustments, have been identified as salt tolerance hallmarks. Nevertheless, due to the complexity of the trait, the results achieved to date have met with limited success in improving the salt tolerance of rice plants when tested in the field, thus suggesting that a better understanding of the tolerance mechanisms is still required. In this work, differences between two varieties of rice with contrasting salt sensitivities were revealed by the imaging of photosynthetic parameters, ion content analysis and a transcriptomic approach. The transcriptomic analysis conducted on tolerant plants supported the setting up of an adaptive program consisting of sodium distribution preferentially limited to the roots and older leaves, and in the activation of regulatory mechanisms of photosynthesis in the new leaves. As a result, plants resumed grow even under prolonged saline stress. In contrast, in the sensitive variety, RNA-seq analysis revealed a misleading response, ending in senescence and cell death. The physiological response at the cellular level was investigated by measuring the intracellular profile of H2O2 in the roots, using a fluorescent probe. In the roots of tolerant plants, a quick response was observed with an increase in H2O2 production within 5 min after salt treatment. The expression analysis of some of the genes involved in perception, signal transduction and salt stress response confirmed their early induction in the roots of tolerant plants compared to sensitive ones. By inhibiting the synthesis of apoplastic H2O2, a reduction in the expression of these genes was detected. Our results indicate that quick H2O2 signaling in the roots is part of a coordinated response that leads to adaptation instead of senescence in salt-treated rice plants.