Title : Functional deficiency of phytochrome B improves salt tolerance in rice
S oil degradation affects agriculture worldwide. Soils with high salt can result from local geological conditions or accumulation of salt from irrigation. Salt limits water uptake and reduces crop yields; therefore, salt tolerance is an important trait for crops grown in high-salt soils. Here, we show that the rice (Oryza sativa) phytochrome B (osphyB) mutant has greater tolerance to salt stress than its parent japonica rice (cv. Dongjin). We found that the osphyB mutant showed a higher survival rate, fresh weight, and levels of total chlorophylls and carotenoids, as well as enhanced membrane integrity under salt stress compared to the wild type. OsPHYB transcripts increased in tissues of the wild type after salt treatment; OsPHYB expression in the leaf blade was much higher than that in the stem and root. The osphyB mutant accumulated less Na+ in the shoot and considerably more K+ in both the shoot and root, maintaining a significantly lower Na+ to K+ ratio, possibly due to a lower rate of Na+ uptake and a higher rate of K+ uptake. To elucidate the possible mechanism of salt tolerance in the osphyB mutant, we performed quantitative reverse transcription PCR analysis, which indicated that salt stress-associated genes, including transcription factors and high-affinity K+ transporters, are upregulated in the osphyB mutant under high-salinity conditions. Taken together, our findings show that the null mutation of OsPHYB contributes to a decrease in the Na+/K+ ratio and enhances cell membrane integrity through upregulation of salt stress-associated genes, resulting in improved tolerance to salt stress.ds).