Dr. Gayatri Venkataraman delivered an invited talk in the Biological Sciences section of 92nd Annual Session of the National academy of Sciences (NASI), in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, on December 6, 2022. Her talk titled ‘Salinity tolerance: Lessons from wild rice and the way forward for cultivated rice’ covered various aspects of research on rice salinity tolerance over the last six years at MSSRF.
Due to a combination of factors, arid, semi-arid and coastal agricultural areas of the world are especially vulnerable to climate change impacts on soil salinity. Tolerance to salinity is a complex trait and plants adopt a range of mechanisms to achieve this. In this context, the premier trait targeted with regard to salinity tolerance has so far been ‘sodium exclusion’. This has resulted in parallel selection of HKT1;5 in conferring the sodium exclusion from shoot’ trait, at least in graminaceous crop species and also orthologs in certain dicot crop species.
In the presentation, function of HKT1;5 in cultivated rice and a halophytic wild rice, Oryza coarctata, was compared. Data was also presented to show that tissue tolerance is an important trait in O. coarcata that allows accumulation of sodium in photosynthetic tissues as an osmoticum against soil salinity. Finally, data from screening coastal rice landraces under salinity was presented to show that tolerance to salinity is attributable independently to both sodium exclusion and tissue tolerance traits.
Dr. Gayatri also served as a panel member for the selection of the best oral presentation (short talks) made by post-graduate and doctoral scholars in the Biological Sciences at NASI.