Ethanol enhances plant high-salinity stress tolerance

July 3, 2017

Potential to increase crop yield under salinity in irrigated farmland

A joint research group has discovered that ethanol, a cheap compound, enhances high-salinity tolerance in plants. The group is led by researchers from RIKEN CSRS, Yokohama City University and NARO under a JST CREST project.

About 20 percent of irrigated agricultural land worldwide has been affected by salt damage. Salinity stress has seriously affected crop growth and yield. Developing technologies to protect plants from such salt damage is therefore essential.

To clarify mechanisms for enhanced salt tolerance, the research group conducted comprehensive gene expression analysis. They found that in the presence of ethanol, expression increased of a gene cluster responsible for removal of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during high-salt stress. They also found increased enzymatic activity of ascorbic acid peroxidase, which works to eliminate hydrogen peroxide, a ROS. Accumulation of ROS was suppressed when ethanol was applied to Arabidopsis seedlings and rice. These results suggest that ethanol increases salt tolerance in both monocots and dicots by suppressing ROS accumulation. These findings are expected to lead to development of fertilizers that enhance crop ability to fight salinity and increase crop yields in saltdamaged areas where construction of irrigated farmland is economically difficult.

Original article
Frontiers in Plant Science doi:10.3389/fpls.2017.01001
H. M. Nguyen, K. Sako, A. Matsui, Y. Suzuki, M. G. Mostofa, C. V. Ha, M. Tanaka, L.-S. P. Tran, Y. Habu, M. Seki,
"Ethanol Enhances High-salinity Stress Tolerance by Detoxifying Reactive Oxygen Species in Arabidopsis thaliana and Rice".
Motoaki Seki
Team Leader
Plant Genomic Network Research Team