A functional comparison of acclimation to shade and submergence in two terrestrial plant species

L. Mommer, H. de Kroon, R. Pierik, G.M. bögemann, E.J.W. Visser

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57 Citations (Scopus)


Terrestrial plants experience multiple stresses when they are submerged, caused both by oxygen deficiency due to reduced gas diffusion in water, and by shade due to high turbidity of the floodwater. It has been suggested that responses to submergence are de facto responses to low light intensity. • We investigated the extent to which submergence and shade induce similar acclimation responses by comparing two terrestrial Rumex species that differ in their responses to flooding. • Our study confirms that there are strong similarities between acclimation responses to shade and submergence. Petiole length, specific leaf area (SLA), chlorophyll parameters and underwater light-compensation points changed at least qualitatively in the same direction. Maximum underwater photosynthesis rate, however, did discriminate between the functionality of the responses, as the acclimation to submergence appeared to be more effective than acclimation to shade at saturating light. • We conclude that acclimation to submergence involves more than an increase in SLA to achieve the significant reduction of diffusion resistance for gas exchange between leaves and the water column.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-206
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • inorganic carbon
  • morphological adaptations
  • photosynthetic rates
  • differential ability
  • aquatic macrophytes
  • amphibious plants
  • light responses
  • elodea-densa
  • water
  • stress

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