Characterization of the BETA1 gene, which might play a role in Beta vulgaris subsp. Maritima salt tolerance
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Salinity stress has a negative impact on plant growth, which affects homeostasis and productivity. The uptake of nonessential salt ions changes the osmotic balance of the cell and causes dehydration. Higher plants develop salt tolerance mechanisms to avoid dehydration. Sea beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima) is a halophytic ancestor of cultivated sugar beet that displays salt stress tolerance. In this study, we screened a B. vulgaris subsp. maritima cDNA library in Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain Ab11c (ena1Δ, nha1/4Δ, nhx1Δ), which is deficient in sodium transport, to find sodium-detoxifying genes. We identified a cDNA construct, named BETA1, providing salt tolerance to yeast cells. This gene had no previously described function. Intracellular sodium measurements demonstrated no significant differences between yeast cells expressing BETA1 or a sham vector, suggesting that sodium was not effluxed in BETA1-expressing cells. Transcriptionally, BETA1 mRNA levels were induced immediately in leaves and later in the root system in response to the salt stress. Our results suggest that the BETA1 gene is part of the salt tolerance network in B. vulgaris subsp. maritima.