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Microbial amelioration of crop salinity stress

Research output: Contribution to journalScientific review


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Experimental Botany
Issue number9
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)3415-3428
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The use of soil and irrigation water with a high content of soluble salts is a major limiting factor for crop productivity in the semi-arid areas of the world. While important physiological insights about the mechanisms of salt tolerance in plants have been gained, the transfer of such knowledge into crop improvement has been limited. The identification and exploitation of soil microorganisms (especially rhizosphere bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi) that interact with plants by alleviating stress opens new alternatives for a pyramiding strategy against salinity, as well as new approaches to discover new mechanisms involved in stress tolerance. Although these mechanisms are not always well understood, beneficial physiological effects include improved nutrient and water uptake, growth promotion, and alteration of plant hormonal status and metabolism. This review aims to evaluate the beneficial effects of soil biota on the plant response to saline stress, with special reference to phytohormonal signalling mechanisms that interact with key physiological processes to improve plant tolerance to the osmotic and toxic components of salinity. Improved plant nutrition is a quite general beneficial effect and may contribute to the maintenance of homeostasis of toxic ions under saline stress. Furthermore, alteration of crop hormonal status to decrease evolution of the growth-retarding and senescence-inducing hormone ethylene (or its precursor 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid), or to maintain source-sink relations, photosynthesis, and biomass production and allocation (by altering indole-3-acetic acid and cytokinin biosynthesis) seem to be promising target processes for soil biota-improved crop salt tolerance.