One of the major abiotic stress conditions affecting the healthy growth of
plants is salinity stress. Scientists Shaneka Lawson (USDA Forest Service)
and Charles Michler (Purdue University) overexpressed Arabidopsis SALT
TOLERANT1 (AtSTO1) gene in poplar to determine if the transgene would confer
improved salt tolerance to the generated plants.
The results of the multiple greenhouse trials showed that transgenic poplar
lines had increased levels of resistance to salt (sodium chloride) than the
non-transgenic lines. Further analyses indicated a difference in the
relative abundance of the STO1 transcript in the transgenics that coincided
with tolerance to salt. Several physiological and morphological changes,
including greater overall biomass, greater root biomass, improved
photosynthesis, and greater pith size were more evident in the transgenics
when compared to controls under salt stress conditions. Based on the
results, overexpression of AtSTO1 enhances salt tolerance in poplar.