Insights into the Transcriptomics of Crop Wild Relatives to Unravel the Salinity Stress Adaptive Mechanisms

Mughair Abdul Aziz, Khaled Masmoudi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The narrow genomic diversity of modern cultivars is a major bottleneck for enhancing the crop’s salinity stress tolerance. The close relatives of modern cultivated plants, crop wild relatives (CWRs), can be a promising and sustainable resource to broaden the diversity of crops. Advances in transcriptomic technologies have revealed the untapped genetic diversity of CWRs that represents a practical gene pool for improving the plant’s adaptability to salt stress. Thus, the present study emphasizes the transcriptomics of CWRs for salinity stress tolerance. In this review, the impacts of salt stress on the plant’s physiological processes and development are overviewed, and the transcription factors (TFs) regulation of salinity stress tolerance is investigated. In addition to the molecular regulation, a brief discussion on the phytomorphological adaptation of plants under saline environments is provided. The study further highlights the availability and use of transcriptomic resources of CWR and their contribution to pangenome construction. Moreover, the utilization of CWRs’ genetic resources in the molecular breeding of crops for salinity stress tolerance is explored. Several studies have shown that cytoplasmic components such as calcium and kinases, and ion transporter genes such as Salt Overly Sensitive 1 (SOS1) and High-affinity Potassium Transporters (HKTs) are involved in the signaling of salt stress, and in mediating the distribution of excess Na+ ions within the plant cells. Recent comparative analyses of transcriptomic profiling through RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) between the crops and their wild relatives have unraveled several TFs, stress-responsive genes, and regulatory proteins for generating salinity stress tolerance. This review specifies that the use of CWRs transcriptomics in combination with modern breeding experimental approaches such as genomic editing, de novo domestication, and speed breeding can accelerate the CWRs utilization in the breeding programs for enhancing the crop’s adaptability to saline conditions. The transcriptomic approaches optimize the crop genomes with the accumulation of favorable alleles that will be indispensable for designing salt-resilient crops.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9813
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • CWRs
  • TFs
  • genetic diversity
  • salinity
  • stress tolerance
  • transcriptomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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