The ability of wheat to maintain a low sodium concentration ([Na+]) in leaves correlates with improved growth under saline conditions1, 2. This trait, termed Na+ exclusion, contributes to the greater salt tolerance of bread wheat relative to durum wheat3, 4. To improve the salt tolerance of durum wheat, we explored natural diversity in shoot Na+ exclusion within ancestral wheat germplasm. Previously, we showed that crossing of Nax2, a gene locus in the wheat relative Triticum monococcum into a commercial durum wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. durum var. Tamaroi) reduced its leaf [Na+] (ref. 5). Here we show that a gene in the Nax2 locus, TmHKT1;5-A, encodes a Na+-selective transporter located on the plasma membrane of root cells surrounding xylem vessels, which is therefore ideally localized to withdraw Na+ from the xylem and reduce transport of Na+ to leaves. Field trials on saline soils demonstrate that the presence of TmHKT1;5-A significantly reduces leaf [Na+] and increases durum wheat grain yield by 25% compared to near-isogenic lines without the Nax2 locus.
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- Supplementary Text and Figures (500 KB)
Supplementary Tables 1–4 and Supplementary Figs. 1–4