Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 79, Issue 3, pp 377–384 | Cite as

Screening of rice (Oryza sativa L.) genotypes for physiological characters contributing to salinity resistance, and their relationship to overall performance

  • A. R. Yeo
  • M. E. Yeo
  • S. A. Flowers
  • T. J. Flowers


Phenotypic resistance of salinity is expressed as the ability to survive and grow in a salinised medium. Some subjective measure of overall performance has normally been used in plant breeding programmes aimed at increasing salinity resistance, not only to evaluate progeny, but to select parents. Salinity resistance has, at least implicitly, been treated as a single trait. Physiological studies of rice suggest that a range of characteristics (such as low shoot sodium concentration, compartmentation of salt in older rather than younger leaves, tolerance to salt within leaves and plant vigour) would increase the ability of the plant to cope with salinity. We describe the screening of a large number of rice genotypes for overall performance (using an objective measure based on survival) and for the aforementioned physiological traits. There was wide variation in all the characters studied, but only vigour was strongly correlated with survival. Shoot sodium concentration, which a priori is expected to be important, accounted for only a small proportion of the variability in the survival of salinity. Tissue tolerance (the cellular component of resistance reflecting the ability to compartmentalise salt within leaves) revealed a fivefold range between genotypes in the tolerance of their leaves to salt, but this was not correlated positively with survival. On the basis of such (lack of) correlation, these traits would be rejected in normal plant breeding practice, but we discuss the fallacies involved in attempting correlation between individual traits and the overall performance of a salt-sensitive species in saline conditions. We conclude that whilst overall performance (survival) can be used to evaluate the salt resistance of a genotype, it is not the basis on which parents should be selected to construct a complex character through breeding. It was the norm for varieties which had one good characteristic affecting salt resistance to be unexceptional or poor in the others. This constitutes experimental evidence that the potential for salt resistance present in the rice genome has not been realised in genotypes currently extant. The results are discussed in relation to the use of physiological traits in plant breeding, with particular reference to environmental stresses that do not affect a significant part of a species' ecological range.

Key words

Oryza sativa Salinity Screening 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Akbar M (1986) Breeding for salinity tolerance in rice. In: IRRI (eds) Salt-affected soils of Pakistan, India and Thailand. The International Rice Research Institute, Los Banos, The Philippines, pp 39–63Google Scholar
  2. Akbar M, Jema KK, Seshu DV (1987) Salt tolerance in wild rices. Int Rice Res News 12:15Google Scholar
  3. Bal AR, Dutt SK (1986) Mechanism of salt tolerance in wild rice (Porteresia coarctata Roxb.). Plant Soil 92:399–404Google Scholar
  4. Chaudhry MA, Yoshida S, Vergara BS (1987) Induced variability for salt tolerance in rice (Oryza sativa L.) after N-methyl-N-nitrosourea treatment of fertilised egg cells. Env Exp Bot 27:29–35Google Scholar
  5. Flowers TJ, Yeo AR (1981) Variability in the resistance of sodium chloride salinity within rice varieties. New Phytol 88:363–373Google Scholar
  6. Flowers TJ, Yeo AR (1986) Ion relations of plants under drought and salinity. Aust J Plant Physiol 13:75–91Google Scholar
  7. Flowers TJ, Hajibagheri MA, Clipson NCW (1986) Halophytes. Quart Rev Biol 61:313–337Google Scholar
  8. Flowers TJ, Salama FM, Yeo AR (1989) Water use efficiency in rice (Oryza sativa L.) in relation to resistance to salinity. Plant Cell Env 11:453–459Google Scholar
  9. Flowers TJ, Hajibagheri MA, Flowers SA, Yeo AR (1990) Salt tolerance in the halophytic wild ricePorteresia coarctata Tateoka. New Phytol (in press)Google Scholar
  10. Greenland DG (1984) Exploited plants: rice. Biologist 31:291–295Google Scholar
  11. Greenway H, Munns R (1983) Interaction between growth, uptake of Cl and Na+, and water relations of plants in saline environments. II. Highly vacuolated cells. Plant Cell Env 6:575–589Google Scholar
  12. IRRI (1976) Standard evaluation system for rice. The International Rice Research Institute. Los Banos, The PhilippinesGoogle Scholar
  13. Leach RP, Wheeler KP, Flowers TJ, Yeo AR (1990) Molecular markers for ion compartmentation in cells of higher plants. II. Lipid composition of the tonoplast of the halophyteSuaeda maritime L. (Dum.). J. Exp. Bot. (in press)Google Scholar
  14. Malcolm CV (1983) Wheatbelt salinity, a review of the salt land problem on South-Western Australia. Technical Bulletin No. 52. Western Australian Department of Agriculture, PerthGoogle Scholar
  15. McCouch SR, Kochert G, Yu ZH, Wang ZY, Khush GS, Coffman WR, Tanksley SD (1988) Molecular mapping of rice chromosomes. Theor Appl Genet 76:815–829Google Scholar
  16. Munns R, Termaat A (1986) Whole-plant responses to salinity. Aust J Plant Physiol 13:143–160Google Scholar
  17. Oertli JJ (1968) Extracellular salt accumulation, a possible mechanism of salt injury in plants. Agrochimica 12:461–469Google Scholar
  18. Ponnamperuma FN (1984) Role of cultivar tolerance in increasing rice production on saline lands. In: Staples RC, Toenniessen GA (eds) Salinity tolerance in plants — strategies for crop improvement. Wiley, New York, pp 255–271Google Scholar
  19. Ranjhan S, Glaszmann JL, Ramirez DA, Khush GS (1988) Chromosomal location of four isozyme loci by trisomic analysis in rice (Oryza sativa L.). Theor Appl Genet 75:541–545Google Scholar
  20. Richards RA (1983) Should selection for yield in saline regions be made on saline or non-saline soils? Euphytica 32:431–438Google Scholar
  21. Toenniessen GA (1984) Review of the world food situation and the role of salt-tolerant plants. In: Staples RC, Toenniessen GA (eds) Salinity tolerance in plants — strategies for crop improvement. Wiley, New York, pp 399–413Google Scholar
  22. Yeo AR, Flowers TJ (1982) Accumulation and localisation of sodium ions within the shoots of rice varieties differing in salinity resistance. Physiol Plant 56:343–348Google Scholar
  23. Yeo AR, Flowers TJ (1983) Varietal differences in the toxicity of sodium ions in rice leaves. Physiol Plant 59:189–195Google Scholar
  24. Yeo AR, Flowers TJ (1984) Mechanisms of salinity resistance in rice and their role as physiological criteria in plant breeding. In: Staples RC, Toenniessen GA (eds) Salinity tolerance in plants — strategies for crop improvement. Wiley, New York, pp 151–170Google Scholar
  25. Yeo AR, Flowers TJ (1985) The absence of an effect of the Na/Ca ratio on NaCl uptake by rice. New Phytol 99:81–90Google Scholar
  26. Yeo AR, Flowers TJ (1986) The physiology of salinity resistance in rice (Oryza sativa L.) and a pyramiding approach to breeding varieties for saline soils. Aust J Plant Physiol 13:161–173Google Scholar
  27. Yeo AR, Flowers TJ (1989) Selection for physiological characters — examples from breeding for salt resistance. In: Jones HG, Flowers TJ, Jones MB (eds) Plants under stress. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 217–234Google Scholar
  28. Yeo AR, Yeo ME, Flowers TJ (1988) Selection of lines with high and low sodium transport from within varieties of an inbreeding species; rice (Oryza sativa L.). New Phytol 110: 13–19Google Scholar
  29. Yoshida S, Forno DA, Cock JH, Gomez KA (1976) Laboratory manual for physiological studies of rice (3rd edn). The International Rice Research Institute. Los Banos, The PhilippinesGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. R. Yeo
    • 1
  • M. E. Yeo
    • 1
  • S. A. Flowers
    • 1
  • T. J. Flowers
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological Sciences, The University of SussexBrightonUK

Personalised recommendations