Histone deacetylases linked to plant salt tolerance identified

November 7, 2017

Environmental stress tolerance controlled by epigenetic regulation

RIKEN CSRS have identified histone deacetylases (HDACs) involved in plant salt tolerance. Salt damage to plants occurs in many parts of the world. Since salt damage decreases crop yields and can lead to desertification, development of salt-tolerant plants is moving forward. A RIKEN CSRS research team has been investigating how to improve plant salt tolerance via epigenetic control methods, among other ways. In 2015, the team elucidated that plants treated with HDAC inhibitors (a type of epigenetic regulator) show salt tolerance. HDAC inhibitors are known to control histone acetylation levels.

Using Arabidopsis thaliana, the team examined which genes encoding HDAC family isoforms correspond to improve plant salt tolerance due to its functional suppression. Among hdac mutants, they found that hda19 mutant plants showed strong salt tolerance, which demonstrated that inhibiting HDA19 function improves salt tolerance. They also clarified that suppressing the functions of another class of HDACs has the effect of weakening plant salt tolerance. These results together with genetic and pharmacological analysis, demonstrate that suppressing HDAC function leads to improved salt tolerance. It also makes possible the development of plant-specific HDAC inhibitors to improve environmental stress tolerance.

Future developments based on these findings should contribute to increase crop yields as well as help prevent desertification from salt damage through the application of HDAC inhibitors in salt-damaged areas.


Original article
Plant Physiology doi:10.1104/pp.17.01332
M. Ueda, A. Matsui, M. Tanaka, T. Nakamura, T. Abe, K. Sako, T. Sasaki, J.-M. Kim, A. Ito, N. Nishino, H. Shimada, M. Yoshida, M. Seki,
"The distinct roles of class I and II RPD3-like histone deacetylases in salinity stress response".

Minoru Ueda; Research Scientist
Motoaki Seki; Team Leader
Plant Genomic Network Research Team