Salt-tolerant genes from halophytes are potential key players of salt tolerance in glycophytes
Crop productivity strongly depends on several biotic and abiotic factors. Salinity is one of the most important abiotic factors, besides drought, extreme temperatures, light and metal stress. The enhanced burden of secondary salinization induced through anthropogenic activities increases pressure on glycophytic crop plants. The recent isolation and characterization of salt tolerance genes encoding signaling components from halophytes, which naturally grow in high salinity, has provided tools for the development of transgenic crop plants with improved salt tolerance and economically beneficial traits. In addition understanding of the differences between glycophytes and halophytes with respect to levels of salinity tolerance is also one of the prerequisite to achieve this goal. Based on the recent developments in mechanisms of salt tolerance in halophytes, we will explore the potential of introducing salt tolerance by choosing the available genes from both dicotyledonous and monocotyledonous halophytes, including the salt overly sensitive system (SOS)-related cation/proton antiporters of plasma (NHX/SOS1) and vacuolar membranes (NHX), energy-related pumps, such as plasma membrane and vacuolar H+ adenosine triphosphatase (PM & V-H+ATPase), vacuolar H+ pyrophosphatases (V-H+PPase) and potassium transporter genes. Various halophyte genes responsible for other processes, such as crosstalk signaling, osmotic solutes production and reactive oxygen species (ROS) suppression, which also enhance salt tolerance will be described. In addition, the transgenic overexpression of halophytic genes in crops (rice, peanut, finger millet, soybean, tomato, alfalfa, jatropha, etc.) will be discussed as a successful mechanism for the induction of salt tolerance. Moreover, the advances in genetic engineering technology for the production of genetically modified crops to achieve the improved salinity tolerance under field conditions will also be discussed.