Detrimental levels of salt can result when agriculture is extended to marginal lands or relies on irrigation. Using the Arabidopsis root tip, Dinneny et al. (see the Perspective by Voesenek and Pierik) examined how different cells within a tissue respond to the physiological stresses due to salinity. Different layers of cells, whether at the surface of the root or more internal, responded differently to the environmental stress of too much salt. Furthermore, stressed cells could influence their neighbors, and gene expression patterns changed over the duration of the stress.
J. R. Dinneny, T. A. Long, J. Y. Wang, J. W. Jung, D. Mace, S. Pointer, C. Barron, S. M. Brady, J. Schiefelbein, P. N. Benfey, Cell identity mediates the response of Arabidopsis roots to abiotic stress. Science 320, 942- 945 (2008). [Abstract] [Full Text]