CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Crop and Pasture Science   
Crop and Pasture Science
Journal Banner
  Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Structure
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
Virtual Issues
All Issues
Special Issues
Research Fronts
Farrer Reviews
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Submit Article
Author Instructions
Open Access
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates
Library Recommendation

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter logo LinkedIn

red arrow Farrer Reviews
blank image

Invited Farrer Review Series. More...

red arrow PrometheusWiki
blank image
Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 66(8)

Ecotypic responses to flood and drought in tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Mervyn Shepherd A B, Rachel Wood A, Camilla Bloomfield A and Carolyn Raymond A

A Southern Cross Plant Science, Southern Cross University, Military Road, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia.
B Corresponding author. Email: Mervyn.Shepherd@scu.edu.au

Crop and Pasture Science 66(8) 864-876 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/CP14311
Submitted: 5 November 2014  Accepted: 7 April 2015   Published: 31 July 2015

PDF (635 KB) $25
 Supplementary Material
 Export Citation

Plantation-grown Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) is the principal source of tea tree oil in Australia. Upland and coastal ecotypes of tea tree were grown in a common environment to test responses in root, shoot and developmental attributes to four hydrological conditions. Consistent with its wetland origins, tea tree exhibited morphological adaptations for flood tolerance, with both ecotypes possessing a similar maximal capacity for adventitious roots and aerenchyma. Despite adaptation to flood, growth was reduced under prolonged flood relative to a well-watered control, and to a similar degree in both ecotypes. Coastal plants responded more rapidly to flood, suggesting that upland plants may delay costly morphological modifications until flooding is more protracted. Mild water deficit (drought) had a greater impact on growth and development than flooding, and upon coastal than upland plants. Relatively lower impact of drought on biomass and branch whorl number in upland plants was probably due to a constitutively higher root : shoot biomass ratio buffering against retarded development and growth. This study was the first step in identifying genetically controlled abiotic stress tolerances that may be useful for further domestication of tea tree. The potential to improve drought tolerance appeared most promising; however, further work will require consideration of appropriate breeding strategies given the low-resource-adapted population origins of tolerance alleles, and it should be prefaced by a clear definition of the target deployment environment and include testing of yield variables of economic value in target environments.

Additional keywords: adaptation, adventitious rooting, aerenchyma, plasticity, root : shoot ratio.


Bailey-Serres J, Voesenek L (2008) Flooding stress: acclimations and genetic diversity. Annual Review of Plant Biology 59, 313–339.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Baker G (1999) Tea tree breeding. In ‘Tea tree—the genus Melaleuca’. Vol. 9. (Eds IA Southwell, R Lowe) pp. 135–151. (Harwood Publishers: Amsterdam)

Barlow BA, Kitching RL (1988) Patterns of differentiation in tropical species of Melaleuca L. (Myrtaceae). In ‘The ecology of Australia’s wet tropics: Proceedings of a Symposium’. (Ed. RL Kitching) (Surrey Beatty & Sons for the Ecological Society of Australia: Chipping Norton, NSW) Available at: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/19190578

Bolton K (1999) From wastes to resources: Constructed Melaleuca wetlands for sewage treatment works. PhD Thesis, Griffith University, Brisbane, Qld, Australia.

Brophy JJ, Craven L, Doran JC (2013) ‘Melaleucas: their botany, essential oils and uses.’ ACIAR Monograph No. 156. (Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research: Canberra, ACT)

Butcher PA (1994) Genetic diversity in Melaleuca alternifolia: Implications for breeding to improve production of Australian tea tree oil. PhD Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia.

Butcher PA, Bell JC, Moran GF (1992) Patterns of genetic diversity and nature of breeding system in Melaleuca alternifolia (Myrtaceae). Australian Journal of Botany 40, 365–375.
CrossRef |

Butcher PA, Doran JC, Slee MU (1994) Intraspecific variation in leaf oils of Melaleuca alternifolia (Myrtaceae). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 22, 419–430.
CrossRef | CAS |

Butcher PA, Byrne M, Moran GF (1995) Variation within and among the chloroplast genomes of Melaleuca alternifolia and Melaleuca linariifolia (Myrtaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 194, 69–81.
CrossRef | CAS |

Butcher PA, Matheson AC, Slee MU (1996) Potential for genetic improvement of oil production in Melaleuca alternifolia and M. linariifolia. New Forests 11, 31–51.

Capon SJ, James CS, Williams L, Quinn GP (2009) Responses to flooding and drying in seedlings of a common Australian desert floodplain shrub: Muehlenbeckia florulenta Meisn. (tangled lignum). Environmental and Experimental Botany 66, 178–185.
CrossRef |

Carson CF, Hammer KA, Riley TV (2006) Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 19, 50–62.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Cattivelli L, Rizza F, Badeck FW, Mazzucotelli E, Mastrangelo AM, Francia E, Marè C, Tondelli A, Stanca AM (2008) Drought tolerance improvement in crop plants: An integrated view from breeding to genomics. Field Crops Research 105, 1–14.
CrossRef |

Cerrillo T, Rodríguez ME, Achinelli F, Doffo G, Luquez VMC (2013) Do greenhouse experiments predict willow responses to long term flooding events in the field? Bosque 34, 71–79.
CrossRef |

Chapin FS, Autumn K, Pugnaire FI (1993) Evolution of suites of traits in relation to environmental stress. American Naturalist 142, 578–592.

Ciordia M, Feito I, Pereira-Lorenzo S, Fernández A, Majada J (2012) Adaptive diversity in Castanea sativa Mill. half-sib progenies in response to drought stress. Environmental and Experimental Botany 78, 56–63.
CrossRef |

Claeys H, Inzé D (2013) The agony of choice: How plants balance growth and survival under water-limiting conditions. Plant Physiology 162, 1768–1779.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Clarke M (2014) ‘Tea tree oil—five year plan. RD&E 2013–2018.’ (RIRDC: Canberra, ACT)

Colmer TD, Voesenek LACJ (2009) Flooding tolerance: suites of plant traits in variable environments. Functional Plant Biology 36, 665–681.
CrossRef |

Colton RT, Murtagh GJ (1999) Cultivation of tea tree. In ‘Tea tree—the genus Melaleuca’. Vol. 9. (Eds IA Southwell, R Lowe) pp. 63–80. (Harwood Publishers: Amsterdam)

Cooper DJ, Merritt DM, Andersen DC, Chimner RA (1999) Factors controlling the establishment of Fremont cottonwood seedlings on the upper Green River, USA. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 15, 419–440.
CrossRef |

De Carvalho MCCG, Da Silva DCG, Ruas PM, Medri ME, Ruas EA, Ruas CF (2008) Flooding tolerance and genetic diversity in populations of Luehea divaricata. Biologia Plantarum 52, 771–774.
CrossRef |

Department of Environment Climate Change and Water NSW (2010) ‘NSW climate impact profile. The impacts of climate change on the biophysical environment of New South Wales.’ (Department of Environment Climate Change and Water NSW: Sydney)

Doran JC, Baker GR, Williams ER, Southwell IA (2006) Genetic gains in oil yields after nine years of breeding Melaleuca alternifolia (Myrtaceae). Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 46, 1521–1527.
CrossRef |

Dubois M, Skirycz A, Claeys H, Maleux K, Dhondt S, De Bodt S, Vanden Bossche R, De Milde L, Yoshizumi T, Matsui M, Inzé D (2013) ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR6 acts as a central regulator of leaf growth under water-limiting conditions in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology 162, 319–332.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Edwards RD, Craven LA, Crisp MD, Cook LG (2010) Melaleuca revisited: cpDNA and morphological data confirm that Melaleuca L. (Myrtaceae) is not monophyletic. Taxon 59, 744–754.

Ferreira CS, Piedade MTF, Franco AC, Goncalves JFC, Junk WJ (2009) Adaptive strategies to tolerate prolonged flooding in seedlings of floodplain and upland populations of Himatanthus sucuuba, a Central Amazon tree. Aquatic Botany 90, 246–252.
CrossRef |

Galkovskyi T, Mileyko Y, Bucksch A, Moore B, Symonova O, Price CA, Topp CN, Iyer-Pascuzzi AS, Zurek PR, Fang S, Harer J, Benfey PN, Weitz JS (2012) GiA Roots: Software for the high throughput analysis of plant root system architecture. BMC Plant Biology 12,
CrossRef | PubMed |

Gibbs J, Greenway H (2003) Mechanisms of anoxia tolerance in plants. I. Growth, survival and anaerobic catabolism. Functional Plant Biology 30, 1–47.
CrossRef | CAS |

Gindaba J, Rozanov A, Negash L (2004) Response of seedlings of two Eucalyptus and three deciduous tree species from Ethiopia to severe water stress. Forest Ecology and Management 201, 119–129.
CrossRef |

Glenz C, Schlaepfer R, Iorgulescu I, Kienast F (2006) Flooding tolerance of Central European tree and shrub species. Forest Ecology and Management 235, 1–13.
CrossRef |

Greenwood MS, Hutchison KW (1993) Maturation as a developmental process. In ‘Clonal forestry I—Genetics and biotechnology’. Vol. 1. (Eds MR Ahuja, WJ Libby) pp. 14–33. (Springer-Verlag: Berlin)

Grime JP (1977) Evidence for the existence of three primary strategies in plants and its relevance to ecological and evolutionary theory. American Naturalist 111, 1169–1194.
CrossRef |

Hall DB (2000) Zero-inflated Poisson and binomial regression with random effects: A case study. Biometrics 56, 1030–1039.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Henery ML (2011) The constraints of selecting for insect resistance in plantation trees. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 13, 111–120.
CrossRef |

Homer LE, Leach DN, Lea D, Lee LS, Henry RJ, Baverstock PR (2000) Natural variation in the essential oil content of Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel (Myrtaceae). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 28, 367–382.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Hook DD (1973) Root adaptations and relative flood tolerances of five hardwood species. Forest Science 19, 225–229.

Hook DD (1984) Adaptations to flooding with fresh water. In ‘Flooding and plant growth’. pp. 265–294. (Academic Press: San Diego, CA, USA)

Jing YX, Li GL, Gu BH, Yang DJ, Xiao L, Liu RX, Peng CL (2009) Leaf gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence and growth responses of Melaleuca alternifolia seedling to flooding and subsequent recovery. Photosynthetica 47, 595–601.
CrossRef | CAS |

Jones R (2004) Testing the melaleuca ‘bark aeration theory’: do waterlogged melaleuca trees undertake gas exchange through their bark? If so, do they leak high amounts of oxygen to the substrate? BSc Honours Thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW, Australia.

Jordan GJ, Potts BM, Chalmers P, Wiltshire R (2000) Quantitative genetic evidence that the timing of vegetative phase change in Eucalyptus globulus spp. globulus is an adaptive trait. Australian Journal of Botany 48, 561–567.
CrossRef |

Justin S, Armstrong W (1987) The anatomical characteristics of roots and plant response to soil flooding. New Phytologist 106, 465–495.
CrossRef |

Keeley JE (1979) Population differentiation along a flood frequency gradient – physiological adaptations to flooding in Nyssa sylvatica. Ecological Monographs 49, 89–108.
CrossRef | CAS |

Ladiges PY, Foord PC, Willis RT (1981) Salinity and waterlogging tolerance of some populations of Melaleuca ericifolia. Australian Journal of Ecology 6, 203–215.
CrossRef |

Lamont B (1978) Root systems of the Myrtaceae. Australian Plants 10, 74–78.

Lee LS, Brooks LO, Homer LE, Rossetto M, Henry RJ, Baverstock PR (2002) Geographic variation in the essential oils and morphology of natural populations of Melaleuca alternifolia (Myrtaceae). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 30, 343–360.
CrossRef | CAS |

Limousin JM, Rambal S, Ourcival JM, Rodríguez-Calcerrada J, Pérez-Ramos IM, Rodríguez-Cortina R, Misson L, Joffre R (2012) Morphological and phenological shoot plasticity in a Mediterranean evergreen oak facing long-term increased drought. Oecologia 169, 565–577.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Magnussen S (1995) The impact of genetic variation in relative growth rates on stem volume differentiation: a simulation study. Silvae Genetica 44, 194–205.

Marcet E (1961) Investigation of the geographic variability of morphological characteristics in Populus deltoides Bartr. Silvae Genetica 10, 161–172.

Markesteijn L, Poorter L (2009) Seedling root morphology and biomass allocation of 62 tropical tree species in relation to drought- and shade-tolerance. Journal of Ecology 97, 311–325.
CrossRef |

Medri C, Ruas EA, Medri ME, Ruas CF, Sayhun S, Medri PS, Silva DCG, Bianchini E, Ruas PM (2011) Genetic diversity and flooding survival in Aegiphila sellowiana (Lamiaceae), a typical tree species from upland riparian forests. Genetics and Molecular Research 10, 1084–1091.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Nicotra AB, Babicka N, Westoby M (2002) Seedling root anatomy and morphology: an examination of ecological differentiation with rainfall using phylogenetically independent contrasts. Oecologia 130, 136–145.
CrossRef |

Norgren O, Elfving B, Olsson O (1995) Non-destructive biomass estimation of tree seedlings using image analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 10, 347–352.
CrossRef |

Osório J, Osório ML, Chaves MM, Pereira JS (1998) Water deficits are more important in delaying growth than in changing patterns of carbon allocation in Eucalyptus globulus. Tree Physiology 18, 363–373.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Rasband WS (2013) ‘ImageJ.’ (National Institutes of Health: Bethesda, MD, USA)

Rossetto M, Slade RW, Baverstock PR, Henry RJ, Lee LS (1999) Microsatellite variation and assessment of genetic structure in tea tree Melaleuca alternifolia Myrtaceae. Molecular Ecology 8, 633–643.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Scheiner SM (1993) Genetics and evolution of phenotypic plasticity. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 24, 35–68.
CrossRef |

Schulze ED (1986) Carbon dioxide and water vapour exchange in response to drought in the atmosphere and the soil. Annual Review of Plant Physiology 37, 247–274.
CrossRef |

Silva DCG, Carvalho MCCG, Ruas PM, Ruas CF, Medri ME (2010) Evidence of ecotypic differentiation between populations of the tree species Parapiptadenia rigida due to flooding. Genetics and Molecular Research 9, 797–810.
CrossRef | CAS |

Southwell IA, Lowe R (1999) ‘Tea tree—the genus Melaleuca.’ (Harwood Academic Publishers: Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

Tardieu F (2012) Any trait or trait-related allele can confer drought tolerance: Just design the right drought scenario. Journal of Experimental Botany 63, 25–31.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Ter-Mikaelian M, Parker WC (2000) Estimating biomass of white spruce seedling with vertical photo imager. New Forests 20, 145–162.
CrossRef |

Valladares F, Gianoli E, Gómez JM (2007) Ecological limits to plant phenotypic plasticity. New Phytologist 176, 749–763.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Visser EJW, Bogemann GM (2003) Measurement of porosity in very small samples of plant tissue. Plant and Soil 253, 81–90.
CrossRef | CAS |

Visser EJW, Voesenek LACJ, Vartapetian BB, Jackson MB (2003) Flooding and plant growth. Annals of Botany 91, 107–109.
CrossRef | CAS |

Warren CR, Adams MA (2005) What determines interspecific variation in relative growth rate of Eucalyptus seedlings? Oecologia 144, 373–381.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Wiltshire RJE, Reid JB (1992) The pattern of juvenility within Eucalyptus tenuiramis Miq. saplings. In ‘Mass production technology for genetically improved fast growing forest tree species. AFOCEL-IUFRO Symposium 1992’. Bordeaux, France. (Association Forêt Cellulose: Nangis, France)

Zhu JK (2002) Salt and drought stress signal transduction in plants. Annual Review of Plant Biology 53, 247–273.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2016