APPF’s Adelaide node is working with the team of Mark Tester, Professor of Plant Science at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudia Arabia, to study mechanisms of salinity tolerance in rice. A former Director of APPF, Prof Tester knows how plant phenotyping can help us better understand the traits contributing to salt stress tolerance and identify the underlying genes.

According to the FAO, rice is the most important food crop in the world with more than 755 million tonnes produced in 2019. It is the staple food of more than half the world’s population, but as the quantity and quality of agricultural water declines, and is impacted by salinity and pollution, the need to find varieties that cope with these stresses becomes more important.

KAUST has used APPF’s facilities previously to measure the maintenance of transpiration use efficiency (TUE) after salt stress treatment in two diverse rice panels. In this trial, nine accessions showing high or low TUE maintenance have been selected for further analysis. In addition to the non-destructive measurements of growth and TUE, samples are taken for transcriptome profiling to identify the genes associated with the maintenance of TUE after salt stress. The aim is to improve our understanding of salinity tolerance in rice and find rice varieties able to cope with the increasing issue of soil salinity.