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Soil salinity affects plant growth and development, which directly impact yield. Plants deploy many mechanisms to cope with, or mitigate, salt stress. One of such mechanism is to control movement of ions from root to shoot by regulating the loading of Na+ in the transpiration stream. The high-affinity K+ transporter 1 (HKT1) is known to play a role in the removal of Na+from the xylem and bring it back to the root. As almond is a salt-sensitive crop, the rootstock plays an important role in successful almond cultivation in salt-affected regions. We currently lack knowledge on the molecular mechanisms involved in salt tolerance of almond rootstocks. In this study, we complemented the Arabidopsis athkt1 knockout mutant with HKT1 ortholog (PpHKT1) from the almond rootstock ‘Nemaguard’. Arabidopsis transgenic lines that were generated in athkt1 background with the constitutive promoter (PpHKT1OE2.2) and the native promoter (PpHKT1NP6) were subjected to different salt treatments. Both transgenic lines survived salt concentrations up to 120 mM NaCl, however, the mutant athkt1 died after 18 days under 120 mM NaCl. At 90 mM NaCl, the dry weight of athkt1 decreased significantly compared to the transgenic lines. Both transgenic lines showed significantly longer lateral roots compared to the athkt1 mutant at 80 mM NaCl treatment. The transgenic lines, PpHKT1OE2.2 and PpHKTNP6 had lower electrolyte leakage and higher relative water content compared to athkt1, suggesting that transgenic plants coped well with increased salt concentration by maintaining the integrity of the membranes. The expression analyses showed that PpHKT1 was induced in PpHKT1OE2.2 and PpHKTNP6 lines under salt treatment, which confirmed that both over-expression and native expression of PpHKT1 in the Arabidopsis mutant can complement salt tolerance function.

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