Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
EVOLUTIONARY REVIEW

Flooding tolerance: suites of plant traits in variable environments

T. D. Colmer A C and L. A. C. J. Voesenek B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B Plant Ecophysiology, Department of Biology, Utrecht University, Padualaan 8, 3584 CH, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

C Corresponding author. Email: tdcolmer@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

This paper is part of an ongoing series: ‘The Evolution of Plant Functions’.

Functional Plant Biology 36(8) 665-681 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP09144
Submitted: 5 June 2009  Accepted: 15 June 2009   Published: 23 July 2009

Abstract

Flooding regimes of different depths and durations impose selection pressures for various traits in terrestrial wetland plants. Suites of adaptive traits for different flooding stresses, such as soil waterlogging (short or long duration) and full submergence (short or long duration – shallow or deep), are reviewed. Synergies occur amongst traits for improved internal aeration, and those for anoxia tolerance and recovery, both for roots during soil waterlogging and shoots during submergence. Submergence tolerance of terrestrial species has recently been classified as either the Low Oxygen Quiescence Syndrome (LOQS) or the Low Oxygen Escape Syndrome (LOES), with advantages, respectively, in short duration or long duration (shallow) flood-prone environments. A major feature of species with the LOQS is that shoots do not elongate upon submergence, whereas those with the LOES show rapid shoot extension. In addition, plants faced with long duration deep submergence can demonstrate aspects of both syndromes; shoots do not elongate, but these are not quiescent, as new aquatic-type leaves are formed. Enhanced entries of O2 and CO2 from floodwaters into acclimated leaves, minimises O2 deprivation and improves underwater photosynthesis, respectively. Evolution of ‘suites of traits’ are evident in wild wetland species and in rice, adapted to particular flooding regimes.

Additional keywords: abiotic stress, adventitious roots, aerenchyma, anoxia tolerance, emergent properties, fermentation, hyponasty, reactive oxygen species, rice, shoot elongation, submergence, synergistic traits, oxidative stress, underwater photosynthesis, waterlogging, wetland plants.


Acknowledgements

We thank Rana Munns for suggestions on the final draft of this paper, and for inviting our review as part of the series in Functional Plant Biology to honour the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’ (Munns 2009). We thank Julia Bailey-Serres and Ronald Pierik for constructive comments on a draft of this paper, and Eric Visser, Julia Bailey-Serres, Motoyuki Ashikari, and Abdel Ismail for advice/help with the Figures used. The ARC–NZ Research Network for Vegetation Function (WG39 – Wetland Plant Traits) provided us with an opportunity to discuss aspects of this review with colleagues. Waterlogging and flooding research in Colmer’s laboratory is supported by GRDC (FFI00004) and the Australian Research Council (LP0882350), and in Voesenek’s laboratory by NWO and CBSG2012 grants.


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