Transcriptome Analysis of the Heritable Salt Tolerance of Prairie Cordgrass (Spartina pectinata Link)

Michael Robben, Ethan Thibault, Michaellong Tran, Yajun Wu, Arvid Boe, Jose L. Gonzalez-Hernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The salt-tolerant capability of the candidate bioenergy crop prairie cordgrass greatly surpasses that of previously characterized prairie grass species and most other plants. To understand the mechanism of inherited salt tolerance, we compared phenotypic and genetic qualities in half-sib families of prairie cordgrass after salt treatment. Each family was treated with a 400 mM NaCl solution or a water control and then measured for various health phenotypes. Phenotypes associated with salt tolerance were shown to be moderately heritable between parent and offspring. RNA-seq analysis revealed differential regulation in unique pathways including metabolism, signaling, photosynthesis, and the circadian rhythm. The studies herein suggest that alternative regulation of the photosynthetic pathway could confer increased salt resistance in halophytes and can be monitored phenotypically or genetically in breeding programs. The improvement of salt-tolerant traits in prairie cordgrass would increase its potential to be grown as a bioenergy crop on lands that are not suitable for the growth of food crops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-114
Number of pages9
JournalBioenergy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Heredity
  • Prairie cordgrass
  • RNA-seq
  • Salt tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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