Variation in shoot tolerance mechanisms not related to ion toxicity in barley

Joanne Tilbrook, Rhiannon K. Schilling, Bettina Berger, Alexandre F. Garcia, Christine Trittermann, Stewart Coventry, Huwaida Rabie, Chris Brien, Martin Nguyen, Mark Tester, Stuart J. Roy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Soil salinity can severely reduce crop growth and yield. Many studies have investigated salinity tolerance mechanisms in cereals using phenotypes that are relatively easy to measure. The majority of these studies measured the accumulation of shoot Na+ and the effect this has on plant growth. However, plant growth is reduced immediately after exposure to NaCl before Na+ accumulates to toxic concentrations in the shoot. In this study, nondestructive and destructive measurements are used to evaluate the responses of 24 predominately Australian barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) lines at 0, 150 and 250mM NaCl. Considerable variation for shoot tolerance mechanisms not related to ion toxicity (shoot ion-independent tolerance) was found, with some lines being able to maintain substantial growth rates under salt stress, whereas others stopped growing. Hordeum vulgare spp. spontaneum accessions and barley landraces predominantly had the best shoot ion independent tolerance, although two commercial cultivars, Fathom and Skiff, also had high tolerance. The tolerance of cv. Fathom may be caused by a recent introgression from H. vulgare L. spp. spontaneum. This study shows that the most salt-tolerant barley lines are those that contain both shoot ion-independent tolerance and the ability to exclude Na+ from the shoot (and thus maintain high K+:Na+ ratios).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1194-1206
Number of pages13
JournalFunctional Plant Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2017


  • Hordeum spp.
  • osmotic stress
  • plant growth
  • plant phenomics
  • salt tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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