, Volume 14, Issue 1-2, pp 137-154
Date: 15 Jun 2008

Raising salinity tolerant rice: recent progress and future perspectives

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With the rapid growth in population consuming rice as staple food and the deteriorating soil and water quality around the globe, there is an urgent need to understand the response of this important crop towards these environmental abuses. With the ultimate goal to raise rice plant with better suitability towards rapidly changing environmental inputs, intensive efforts are on worldwide employing physiological, biochemical and molecular tools to perform this task. In this regard, efforts of plant breeders need to be duly acknowledged as several salinity tolerant varieties have reached the farmers field. Parallel efforts from molecular biologists have yielded relevant knowledge related to perturbations in gene expression and proteins during stress. Employing transgenic technology, functional validation of various target genes involved in diverse processes such as signaling, transcription, ion homeostasis, antioxidant defense etc for enhanced salinity stress tolerance has been attempted in various model systems and some of them have been extended to crop plant rice too. However, the fact remains that these transgenic plants showing improved performance towards salinity stress are yet to move from ‘lab to the land’. Pondering this, we propose that future efforts should be channelized more towards multigene engineering that may enable the taming of this multigene controlled trait. Recent technological achievements such as the whole genome sequencing of rice is leading to a shift from single gene based studies to genome wide analysis that may prove to be a boon in re-defining salt stress responsive targets.