Soil salinity is a major environmental constraint to crop productivity worldwide. The “biological” approach to this problem focuses on the management, exploitation, or development of plants able to thrive on salt‐affected soils. This chapter reviews strategies by which plants can be enabled to grow on saline soils. The first strategy is to prime seeds before planting by treating them with inorganic or organic chemicals and/or with high or low temperatures. The second strategy involves exogenous application of organic chemicals, such as glycine betaine, proline, or plant growth regulators, or inorganic chemicals to plants under salinity stress. Considerable improvements in growth and yield have been reported in a number of crops using these approaches. The third strategy is to employ selection and breeding. Major efforts have been made to develop salt‐tolerant lines or cultivars of crops using conventional plant breeding. However, the complexity of the tolerance mechanisms, lack of selection criteria, and variation in responses of plants at different developmental stages have resulted in only limited success. The emphases for developing salt‐tolerant lines/cultivars are now on marker‐assisted breeding and genetic transformation. The development of salt‐tolerant transgenic plants is still at an early stage but may become increasingly more effective as better knowledge of the complex mechanisms involved in plant salt tolerance is acquired. Furthermore, the rapid expansion in knowledge on genomics and proteomics will undoubtedly accelerate the transgenic and molecular breeding approaches However, to date, there are few conclusive reports indicating successful performance of transgenic cultivars under natural stressful environments.
- soil salinity
- salt tolerance