Farm Table says:
Textile Hemp vs. Salinity: Insights from a Targeted Gene Expression Analysis
What is the problem?
Soil salinity is one of the most detrimental environmental factors limiting productivity of crop plants, due to most crop plants being sensitive to high concentrations of salts in the soil. The area of land affected by salinity is increasing. This study investigated the resistance of hemp plants grown in saline soils, and the genetics involved.
What did the research involve?
- Fiber variety hemp plants were grown and treated with 200 mM NaCl twice a day from 4 days old to 15 days old and their response was compared to control plants.
- Tissue response in 15 day old Cannabis sativa seedlings were analysed by applying stain and observerved using confocal microscopy.
- Gene expression was analysed using RNA qPCR amplification.
What were the key findings?
- Researchers showed a reduction in the germinating stem thickness of approximately 0.3 mm for the in the salt stressed plants compared to the control plants.
- Hemp plantlets tested did not show obvious symptoms of shock in the above-ground plant tissues after the first week of high salt treatment.
- At two weeks, signs of growth arrest and smaller xylem vessels were observed.
- RNA qPCR analysis revealed specific genes that were upregulated or downregulated during salt stress treatment indicating their involvement in the plant response.
Researchers have identified genes that are upregulated in response to saline stress, with these responsible for increasing lignin and bast fibre production, which are important to fibre crops.
This paper was summarised by Luke Stafford (Bachelor of Biological Sciences with Honours – Botany and Genetics Majors (La Trobe University) and reviewed by Nickala Best (PhD Student (La Trobe University). Learn more about Luke and Nickala here.