Research Highlight

Salt tolerant role of plant gene discovered

doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.146 Published online 31 October 2013

Researchers at New Delhi-based International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) have discovered a novel role of the plant gene SUV3 in providing salinity stress tolerance to transgenic rice.

The SUV3 helicase is known for regulation of RNA surveillance and turnover in mitochondria, but the helicase activity of plant SUV3 and its role in abiotic stress tolerance had not been reported so far.

The researchers report that the Oryza sativa (rice) SUV3 protein exhibits DNA and RNA helicase, and ATPase activities. They also observed that SUV3 was induced in rice seedlings in response to high levels of salt. Their study shows that the expression of the gene, driven by a constitutive cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter in IR64 transgenic rice plants, confers salinity tolerance.

"The plant SUV3 exhibits DNA and RNA helicase and ATPase activities, and provides direct evidence of its function in imparting salinity stress tolerance without yield loss," says one of the authors Narendra Tuteja. The possible mechanism could be that OsSUV3 helicase functions in salinity stress tolerance by improving photosynthesis and antioxidant machinery in transgenic rice, he says.


  1. Tuteja, N. et al. OsSUV3 dual helicase functions in salinity stress tolerance by maintaining photosynthesis and antioxidant machinery in rice (Oryza sativa L. cv. IR64). Plant J. (2013) doi: 10.1111/tpj.12277