Beginning:      Autumn – Winter 2017
Duration:        8 weeks, unpaid
Credits:            12 ECTS


Most plants on earth depend on fresh water. A large part of these plants are the agricultural crops that we grow for consumption, feed, and biofuels. Since demand for these products are growing, also the demand for fresh water is growing. However, the amount and quality of fresh water is actually decreasing and irrigation water and cropping fields are turning brackish or even saline. Predicted increasing temperatures and extreme precipitation and drought events are suspected to add to this salinization process. And in addition to this the increasing rates of poor irrigation practices by farmers, growing amounts of industrial waste water discharge into rivers, and more inland sea water intrusion will cause fresh water to salinize even quicker. This is why many researchers have studied the response of agricultural crops to different salt concentrations to determine their salinity tolerance, yield impact and quality parameters of our crops.


In this literature review you are asked to make use of the extensive body of literature that is currently available which studies the effect of increasing salt concentrations on agricultural crops. A quick scan of literature reveals that many papers appear to be species specific and focused on finding the best cropping genotype. However, a proper inventory is still lacking. Will this perhaps reveal plant traits that are most promising in explaining response to salt stress? Next to this the studies seem disconnected from the actual field. Is it possible to compare the results of the different methods used to determine salt tolerance, e.g. pot experiment, hydroponics, field studies? And finally, what do we need to pay attention to if we want to translate results to a more natural system?

Contact information

Milou Huizinga is a PhD student working on salinization of natural floating fen plant communities in The Netherlands. During her PhD project she is supervised by Prof. Dr. Ing. Flip Witte and Prof. Dr. Rien Aerts.

If this topic appeals to you, please contact

Faculty of Science (FES), VU Amsterdam.
Dept. of Ecological Science, subdept. Systems Ecology, room A-159.
Adress: De Boelelaan 1085, 1081HV Amsterdam