Mechanisms of salinity tolerance

Rana Munns*, Mark Tester

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9427 Scopus citations


The physiological and molecular mechanisms of tolerance to osmotic and ionic components of salinity stress are reviewed at the cellular, organ, and whole-plant level. Plant growth responds to salinity in two phases: a rapid, osmotic phase that inhibits growth of young leaves, and a slower, ionic phase that accelerates senescence of mature leaves. Plant adaptations to salinity are of three distinct types: osmotic stress tolerance, Na+ or Cl - exclusion, and the tolerance of tissue to accumulated Na + or Cl-. Our understanding of the role of the HKT gene family in Na+ exclusion from leaves is increasing, as is the understanding of the molecular bases for many other transport processes at the cellular level. However, we have a limited molecular understanding of the overall control of Na+ accumulation and of osmotic stress tolerance at the whole-plant level. Molecular genetics and functional genomics provide a new opportunity to synthesize molecular and physiological knowledge to improve the salinity tolerance of plants relevant to food production and environmental sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-681
Number of pages31
JournalAnnual review of plant biology
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Chloride
  • Salinity stress
  • Salt tolerance
  • Sodium toxicity
  • Stress tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanisms of salinity tolerance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this