Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Effects of salt stress on ion balance and nitrogen metabolism of old and young leaves in rice (Oryza sativa L.)

Huan Wang1, Meishan Zhang2, Rui Guo3, Decheng Shi1, Bao Liu1, Xiuyun Lin4 and Chunwu Yang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Key laboratory of Molecular Epigenetics of MOE, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024 Jilin Province, China

2 Department of Agronomy, Jilin Agricultural University, Changchun, 130118, Jilin Province, China

3 Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture(IEDA), Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), Key Laboratory of Dry land Agriculture, MOA, Beijing, 100081, China

4 Rice Institute, Jilin Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Changchun, 130033, Jilin Province, China

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BMC Plant Biology 2012, 12:194  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-194

Published: 21 October 2012



It is well known that salt stress has different effects on old and young tissues. However, it remains largely unexplored whether old and young tissues have different regulatory mechanism during adaptation of plants to salt stress. The aim of this study was to investigate whether salt stress has different effects on the ion balance and nitrogen metabolism in the old and young leaves of rice, and to compare functions of both organs in rice salt tolerance.


Rice protected young leaves from ion harm via the large accumulation of Na+ and Cl in old leaves. The up-regulation of OsHKT1;1, OsHAK10 and OsHAK16 might contribute to accumulation of Na+ in old leaves under salt stress. In addition, lower expression of OsHKT1;5 and OsSOS1 in old leaves may decrease frequency of retrieving Na+ from old leaf cells. Under salt stress, old leaves showed higher concentration of NO3 content than young leaves. Up-regulation of OsNRT1;2, a gene coding nitrate transporter, might contribute to the accumulation of NO3 in the old leaves of salt stressed-rice. Salt stress clearly up-regulated the expression of OsGDH2 and OsGDH3 in old leaves, while strongly down-regulated expression of OsGS2 and OsFd-GOGAT in old leaves.


The down-regulation of OsGS2 and OsFd-GOGAT in old leaves might be a harmful response to excesses of Na+ and Cl. Under salt stress, rice might accumulate Na+ and Cl to toxic levels in old leaves. This might influence photorespiration process, reduce NH4+ production from photorespiration, and immediately down-regulate the expression of OsGS2 and OsFd-GOGAT in old leaves of salt stressed rice. Excesses of Na+ and Cl also might change the pathway of NH4+ assimilation in old leaves of salt stressed rice plants, weaken GOGAT/GS pathway and elevate GDH pathway.

Salt stress; Rice; Nitrogen metabolism; Gene expression; Old and young leaves