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Breeding salt-tolerant plants

Photo credit: Nature World News

Certain grasses can be made more salt-tolerant, allowing us to use treated wastewater for it and save clean water for human use. (Photo : Flickr)

Drought: Saving Water with Plant Genetics, Breeding Salt Tolerance

By Catherine Arnold

As arid conditions increase in various parts of the nation and world, scientists focus are focusing on using drought-resistant plants and increasing the number of plants able to use treated wastewater that still contains salt. The less water for plants, the more clean water for humans.

Athletic fields and golf courses remain heavy users of water. Golf courses alone use approximately 750 billion gallons of water annually in arid regions. Most plants on the fields still cannot tolerate a lot of salt.

Researcher Stacy Bonos, at the Department of Plant Biology & Pathology at Rutgers University, and her team recently published their research on perennial ryegrass in Crop Science journal. They’ve found that perennial ryegrass is controlled by additive genetic effects rather than environmental effects, meaning that salt tolerance can be bred for.

Bonos’ research team measured salt tolerance using something called “visual percent green color”–the percentage of the plant that is green and actively growing, as compared to brown and therefore dying, according to a release.

They also conducted experiments to confirm salt tolerance, including looking at broad-sense heritability, according to a release. The latter showed that the trait for salt tolerance has more genetic components than environmental ones.

Read the full article: Nature World News

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.