Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 915–926 | Cite as

Functional analysis of McSnRK1 (SNF1-related protein kinase 1) in regulating Na/K homeostasis in transgenic cultured cells and roots of halophyte Mesembryanthemum crystallinum

  • Hau-Hsuan Hwang
  • Chih-Hao Wang
  • Hsiao-Wei Huang
  • Chih-Pin Chiang
  • Shin-Fei Chi
  • Fan-Chen Huang
  • Hungchen E. YenEmail author
Original Article


Key message

Transgenic callus and roots of ice plant with altered SnRK1 function were established using Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. The role of McSnRK1 in controlling Na+ influx and Na/K ratio was demonstrated.


SnRK1 kinases (SNF1-related protein kinase1) control metabolic adaptation during energy deprivation and regulate protective mechanisms against environmental stress. Yeast SNF1 activates a P-type ATPase, the Na+ exclusion pump, under glucose starvation. The involvement of plant SnRK1 in salt stress response is largely unknown. We previously identified a salt-induced McSnRK1 in the halophyte ice plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum). In the current study, the function of McSnRK1 in salt tolerance was analyzed in transgenic cultured cells and roots of ice plant. Ice plant callus constitutively expressed a high level of McSnRK1 and introducing the full-length McSnRK1 did not alter the Na/K ratio at 24 h after 200 mM NaCl treatment. However, interfering with McSnRK1 activity by introducing a truncate McSnRK1 to produce a dominant-negative form of McSnRK1 increased cellular Na+ accumulation and Na/K ratio. As a result, the growth of cultured cells diminished under salt treatment. Hydroponically grown ice plants with roots expressing full-length McSnRK1 had better growth and lowered Na/K ratio compared to the wild-type or vector-only plants. Roots expressing a truncate McSnRK1 had reduced growth and high Na/K ratio under 400 mM NaCl treatment. The changes in Na/K ratio in transgenic cells and whole plants demonstrated the function of SnRK1 in controlling Na+ flux and maintaining Na/K homeostasis under salinity. The Agrobacterium-mediated transformation system could be a versatile tool for functional analysis of genes involved in salt tolerance in the ice plant.


Ice plant Ion homeostasis Salt stress SnRK1 



The authors thank the Hwang and Yen laboratory members for discussion and technical assistance. This research was funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (MOST 103-2311-B-005-003; MOST 107-2321-B-005-009) and in part by the Ministry of Education, Taiwan, under the Higher Education Sprout Project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

299_2019_2412_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (257 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 1 Na+ distribution in 200 mM NaCl-treated WT and SnRK-ex cells. Fluorescence detection of Na+ in cells stained with 10 μM Sodium Green. Column 1 shows signals from Sodium Green, column 2 bright field images, column 3 merged images of column 1 and 2. At least 20 cells were observed with similar distribution for each treatment. Only one representative image is shown. Bar = 20 μm. (PDF 257 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life SciencesNational Chung Hsing UniversityTaichungTaiwan
  2. 2.Ph.D. Program in Microbial GenomicsNational Chung Hsing University and Academia SinicaTaichungTaiwan
  3. 3.Ph.D. Program in Microbial GenomicsNational Chung Hsing UniversityTaichungTaiwan
  4. 4.Advanced Plant Biotechnology CenterNational Chung Hsing UniversityTaichungTaiwan
  5. 5.Innovation and Development Center of Sustainable AgricultureNational Chung Hsing UniversityTaichungTaiwan
  6. 6.Agricultural Biotechnology Research CenterAcademia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan

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