A coastal cline in sodium accumulation in Arabidopsis thaliana is driven by natural variation of the sodium transporter AtHKT1;1

Ivan Baxter, Jessica N Brazelton, Danni Yu, Yu S Huang, Brett Lahner, Elena Yakubova, Yan Li, Joy Bergelson, Justin O Borevitz, Magnus Nordborg, Olga Vitek, David E Salt

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The genetic model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, like many plant species, experiences a range of edaphic conditions across its natural habitat. Such heterogeneity may drive local adaptation, though the molecular genetic basis remains elusive. Here, we describe a study in which we used genome-wide association mapping, genetic complementation, and gene expression studies to identify cis-regulatory expression level polymorphisms at the AtHKT1;1 locus, encoding a known sodium (Na+) transporter, as being a major factor controlling natural variation in leaf Na+ accumulation capacity across the global A. thaliana population. A weak allele of AtHKT1;1 that drives elevated leaf Na+ in this population has been previously linked to elevated salinity tolerance. Inspection of the geographical distribution of this allele revealed its significant enrichment in populations associated with the coast and saline soils in Europe. The fixation of this weak AtHKT1;1 allele in these populations is genetic evidence supporting local adaptation to these potentially saline impacted environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1001193
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2010


  • helianthus-paradoxus asteraceae
  • wild sunflower hybrids
  • salt tolerance
  • salinity tolerance
  • mimulus-guttatus
  • Southern Sweden
  • marine aerosols
  • life-history
  • inland
  • evolutionary

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