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Salt Stress Affects the Growth and Yield of Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) by Altering the Antioxidant Machinery and Expression of Hormones and Stress-Specific Genes

Shahid Hussain1, Rui Zhang1, Shuli Liu1, Yang Wang1, Irshad Ahmad2, Yinglong Chen1, Hongyan Hou3, Qigen Dai1,*
1 Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Physiology, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Crop Cultivation and Physiology, Jiangsu Co-innovation Center for Modern Production Technology of Grain Crops, Research Institute of Rice Industrial Engineering Technology, Key Laboratory of Saline-Alkali Soil Improvement and Utilization (Coastal Saline-Alkali Lands), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, 225000, China
2 Joint International Research Laboratory of Agriculture and Agri-Product Safety of the Ministry of Education of China, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, 225009, China
3 Yibang Agriculture Technology Development Co., Ltd., Dongying, 257000, China
* Corresponding Author: Qigen Dai. Email:
(This article belongs to this Special Issue: Physiological and Molecular Interventions in Improving Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Plants)

Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany 2023, 92(3), 861-881.

Received 15 July 2022; Accepted 09 September 2022; Issue published 29 November 2022


Understanding physiological responses in saline agriculture may facilitate wheat breeding programs. Based on a screening test, the Ningmai-14 (NM-14) and Yangmai-23 (YM-23) wheat cultivars were selected for further experiments to understand the underlying salinity tolerance mechanism. This study investigated the effects of five salinity levels such as Control (CK) = 0 (without NaCl stress), S1 = 0.20%, S2 = 0.25%, S3 = 0.30% and S4 = 0.35% of NaCl concentrations of soil on wheat plants. The results showed that increased salinity concentration reduced the growth and yield of wheat cultivars (NM-14 and YM-23). However, YM-23 (12.7%) yielded more than NM-14 at maximum salinity stress. The higher salinity (S4) increased the concentration of Na+ (4.3 to 5.8-fold) and P contents (2.5 to 2.2-fold), while reducing the average concentrations of K+, Cu, and K+/Na+ ratio. The higher salinity (S4) reduced the spikelet length by 21.35% (followed by grain spike−1), and the starch content by 18.81%. In the YM-23 cultivar, higher salinity increased superoxide dismutase (SOD), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), and amylase. Compared to NM-14, induced expression of TaYUC2, 6, and TaGA13ox, 20ox genes were recorded in YM-23. Similarly, in YM-23 the stress-specific genes such as TaHSP70, 90 were enhanced whereas, TaSOS1, 2 were suppressed. Overall, our study revealed that salt tolerant cultivars modulate hormonal and antioxidant activities, thus maintaining high growth.


Salinity; wheat; hormones; K/Na ratio; growth and yield; gene expression

Cite This Article

Hussain, S., Zhang, R., Liu, S., Wang, Y., Ahmad, I. et al. (2023). Salt Stress Affects the Growth and Yield of Wheat ( L.) by Altering the Antioxidant Machinery and Expression of Hormones and Stress-Specific Genes. Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany, 92(3), 861–881.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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