Salinity is one of the major abiotic factors that limit rice production worldwide. Previous trends show that salt concentration in rivers is increasing consistently, posing potentially adverse threats in the near future. Thus, crops currently being cultivated, particularly in small-scale farming systems, are under high threat from salinity. In this study, we investigated the mitigating effect of nitric oxide (NO) on salt stress in rice based on the assessment of changes in the transcript levels of different genes and the phenotypic response of rice genotypes. We observed that exogenously applied NO increased the expression levels of OsHIPP38, OsGR1
, and OsP5CS2
in the susceptible genotype of rice, whereas in the tolerant genotype, the effect of NO was mainly in counteracting the salt-induced gene expression that diverts cellular energy for defense. Moreover, seedlings that were pretreated with NO showed high biomass production under salt stress conditions, indicating the positive role of NO against salt-induced leaf chlorosis and early senescence. The effect of NO-mediated enhancement was more pronounced in the salt tolerant genotype. Therefore, the use of NO with the integration of tolerant genes or genotypes will enhance salt tolerance levels in rice.
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