Abiotic stress tolerance

The Roots in Salt team

within Plant Physiology, Wageningen University


Group Leader Christa Testerink

Our research focuses on responses of plants to salinity stress and water deficit

Subprojects address the following questions:

Curiosity driven:

  • How is root architecture remodeled during salt and water stress and how do root responses to salt contribute to stress tolerance of plants?
  • How are Na+ ions sensed by plants? What is the molecular mechanism that sets in motion all downstream responses that are mounted when plants encounter salinity?
  • How is the balance between cellular Na+ and K+ levels maintained in the presence of an overwhelming amount of Na+ ions during salt stress?
  • What is the role of auxin transport and local auxin biosynthesis and conjugation in root and shoot developmental responses to salt stress?
  • What are the gene regulatory networks that guide developmental responses to salt and water stress?

Approaches range from natural variation screening and genetics, stress physiology, gene editing and mutant screening, cellular microscopy, and biochemical approaches.

In addition to the questions addressed above, we are interested in how stress affects the timing of flowering of plants and how chloroplast function is maintained in high salt.

Species: Arabidopsis (of course!), tomato, the halophyte S. parvula, and potato.


Our research was highlighted in episode 7 of 'Grote Vragen' by VPRO on Dutch television. Watch the episode here (in Dutch).

For more news and updates see rootsinsalt.com