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© 2018 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved. Endopolyploidy occurs when DNA replication takes place without subsequent mitotic nuclear division, resulting in cell-specific ploidy levels within tissues. In plants, endopolyploidy plays an important role in sustaining growth and development, but only a few studies have demonstrated a role in abiotic stress response. In this study, we investigated the function of ploidy level and nuclear and cell size in leaf expansion throughout development and tracked cell type-specific ploidy in the halophyte Mesembryanthemum crystallinum. In addition to developmental endopolyploidy, we examined the effects of salinity stress on ploidy level. We focused specifically on epidermal bladder cells (EBC), which are modified balloon-like trichomes, due to their large size and role in salt accumulation. Our results demonstrate that ploidy increases as the leaves expand in a similar manner for each leaf type, and ploidy levels up to 512C were recorded for nuclei in EBC of leaves of adult plants. Salt treatment led to a significant increase in ploidy levels in the EBC, and these cells showed spatially related differences in their ploidy and nuclear and cell size depending on the positions on the leaf and stem surface. Transcriptome analysis highlighted salinity-induced changes in genes involved in DNA replication, cell cycle, endoreduplication, and trichome development in EBC. The increase in cell size and ploidy observed in M. crystallinum under salinity stress may contribute to salt tolerance by increasing the storage capacity for sodium sequestration brought about by higher metabolic activity driving rapid cell enlargement in the leaf tissue and EBC.

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Plant Physiology

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