Archive ScienceWatch

Rana Munns & Mark Tester talk with and answer a few questions about this month's New Hot Paper in the field of Plant & Animal Science. 
Rana Munns Article Title: Mechanisms of salinity tolerance
Authors: Munns, R;Tester, M
Volume: 59
Page: :651-681
Year: 2008
* CSIRO Plant Ind, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
* CSIRO Plant Ind, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
* Australian Ctr Plant Funct Genom, Adelaide, SA, Australia.
* Univ Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

 Why do you think your paper is highly cited?

Salinity is a topic that attracts significant attention in plant science, as it is of both intellectual and applied interest. This review synthesizes thinking based on a sum of 50 years' experience from the two authors, both of whom have separately published well-regarded reviews in the past.

 Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or synthesis of knowledge?

The paper describes a new synthesis of knowledge, clearly proposing three main components of salinity tolerance and outlining approaches that might be taken to quantify them and also tackle their molecular basis through genetics.

 Would you summarize the significance of your paper in layman's terms?

Mark Tester Discuss

Mark Tester

Salinity tolerance is complex and, for the field to make progress, this complexity needs to be simplified by dividing up the plant responses into separate components whereby each of these components can be studied separately. This review provides the framework for such future studies.

 How did you become involved in this research, and were there any problems along the way?

Rana Munns moved into this research as a young postdoctoral researcher, and she has been involved in studying salinity tolerance ever since. Mark Tester has more recently moved into salinity research, in the process of seeking to apply his knowledge of membrane transport to a whole plant physiological issue of practical relevance.

 Where do you see your research leading in the future?

In the short term, genetic studies of salinity tolerance are undoubtedly an emphasis, using high-throughput physiological assays to allow positional cloning of genes conferring tolerance to the various salinity tolerance components.

Looking ahead, our research will deliver genetic material to plant breeders for commercialization. We want to overcome the difficulties of the practical deployment of scientific advances, such as so often blights significant breakthroughs. The example of cystic fibrosis is salutary—where a range of difficulties have thus far limited the therapeutic benefits of wonderful research breakthroughs.

 Do you foresee any social or political implications for your research?

Yes, the implications are significant, both for helping agriculture in developing countries to improve the salinity tolerance of plants relevant to food production and environmental sustainability and also for the consideration of the benefits of genetically modified crops in developed countries.

Mark Tester, Ph.D.
Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics
Australian Plant Phenomics Facility
The University of Adelaide
Glen Osmond, AU
Web ¦ Web ¦ Web ¦ Web  ¦ Web

Dr. Rana Ellen Munns, FAA
Chief Research Scientist
CSIRO Plant Industry
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, AU


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2009 : September 2009 - New Hot Papers : Rana Munns & Mark Tester Discuss Their Work with Salinity Tolerance