Salinity tolerance in plants: Breeding and genetic engineering

Salinity stress limits crop yield affecting plant growth and restricting the use of land. As world population is increasing at alarming rate, agricultural land is shrinking due to industrialization and/or habitat use. Hence, there is a need to utilize salt affected land to meet the food requirement. Although some success has been achieved through conventional breeding but its use is limited due to reproductive barrier and scarcity of genetic variations among major crops. The genetic engineering has proven a revolutionary technique to generate salt tolerant plants as one can transfer desired gene from any genetic resource and/or alter the expression of existing gene(s). There are examples of improved salinity tolerance in various crop plants through the use of genetic engineering. However, there is a further need of improvement for successful release of salt tolerant cultivars at field level. In this review, we have given a detailed update on production of salt-tolerant plants through genetic engineering. Future prospects and concerns, along with the importance of novel techniques, as well as plant breeding are also discussed. Keywords: Helicases; Ion transporter; Lea proteins; Osmoprotectants; Salinity stress; Transcription factors. Abbreviations: DIGE-differential in gel electrophoresis; GB-glycine betaine; MAPK- mitogen activated protein kinase; QTLquantitative trait loci; ROS- reactive oxygen species; TILLING- targeted induced local lesions in genome.

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