Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Leaf gas film retention during submergence of 14 cultivars of wheat (Triticum aestivum)

Dennis Konnerup A B , Anders Winkel A , Max Herzog A and Ole Pedersen A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Freshwater Biological Laboratory, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 4, 3rd floor, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.

B Corresponding author. Email: dennis.konnerup@bio.ku.dk

Functional Plant Biology - https://doi.org/10.1071/FP16401
Submitted: 10 November 2016  Accepted: 31 January 2017   Published online: 23 March 2017

Abstract

Flooding of fields after sudden rainfall events can result in crops being completely submerged. Some terrestrial plants, including wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), possess superhydrophobic leaf surfaces that retain a thin gas film when submerged, and the gas films enhance gas exchange with the floodwater. However, the leaves lose their hydrophobicity during submergence, and the gas films subsequently disappear. We tested gas film retention time of 14 different wheat cultivars and found that wheat could retain the gas films for a minimum of 2 days, whereas the wild wetland grass Glyceria fluitans (L.) R.Br. had thicker gas films and could retain its gas films for a minimum of 4 days. Scanning electron microscopy showed that the wheat cultivars and G. fluitans possessed high densities of epicuticular wax platelets, which could explain their superhydrophobicity. However, G. fluitans also had papillae that contributed to higher hydrophobicity during the initial submergence and could explain why G. fluitans retained gas films for a longer period of time. The loss of gas films was associated with the leaves being covered by an unidentified substance. We suggest that leaf gas film is a relevant trait to use as a selection criterion to improve the flood tolerance of crops that become temporarily submerged.

Additional keywords: air film, flooding, underwater photosynthesis, wettability.


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