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

Review: Mechanisms of anoxia tolerance in plants. I. Growth, survival and anaerobic catabolism

Jane Gibbs and Hank Greenway

Functional Plant Biology 30(1) 1 - 47
Published: 31 January 2003


Anoxia can be one consequence of waterlogging and submergence of plants. Anoxia in plant tissues reduces the rate of energy production by 65–97% compared with the rate in air. Thus, adaptation to anoxia always includes coping with an energy crisis. Tolerance to anoxia is relevant to wetland species, rice cultivation and transient waterlogging of other agricultural and horticultural crops. This perspective, in two parts, examines mechanisms of anoxia tolerance in plants. Part 1 covers anoxia tolerance in terms of growth and survival, the interaction of anoxia tolerance with other environmental factors, and the development of anoxic cores within plant tissues. Equally importantly, Part 1 also examines anaerobic carbohydrate catabolism (principally ethanolic fermentation in plants) and its regulation. We put forward two modes of anoxia tolerance, one based on reduced rates of anaerobic carbohydrate catabolism and the other on accelerated rates (Pasteur effect). Further, Part 1 examines mechanisms of post-anoxic injury. In Part 2 (Greenway and Gibbs, manuscript in preparation) we consider flow of the limited amount of energy produced under anoxia to processes essential for cell survival. We show that acclimation to anoxia in plants involves integration of a set of sophisticated characteristics, as a consequence of which the habitat within the anoxic cell is a very different world to that of the aerobic cell.

© CSIRO 2003

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