Characterization of salt tolerance in ectoine-transformed tobacco plants (Nicotiana tabaccum): photosynthesis, osmotic adjustment, and nitrogen partitioning


K. Fujita. E-mail:


Ectoine (1,4,5,6-tetrahydro-2-methyl-4-pyrimidinecarboxylic acid) biosynthetic genes (ect. ABC) from Halomonas elongata were introduced to tobacco plants using an Agrobacterium-mediated gene delivery system. The genes for ectoine biosynthesis were integrated in a stable manner into the tobacco genome and the corresponding transcripts were expressed. The concentration of ectoine under salt-stress conditions was higher in the roots than in leaves. A close relationship was found between stomatal conductance and the amount of transported nitrogen, suggesting that water transport through the xylem in the stem and transpiration may be involved in nitrogen transport to leaves. The data indicate that the turgor values of the ectoine transgenic lines increased with increasing salt concentration. The data revealed two ways in which ectoine enhanced salinity tolerance of tobacco plants. First, ectoine improved the maintenance of root function so that water is taken up consistently and supplied to shoots under saline conditions. Second, ectoine enhanced the nitrogen supply to leaves by increasing transpiration and by protecting Rubisco proteins from deleterious effects of salt, thereby improving the rate of photosynthesis.