Acclimation of a terrestrial plant to submergence facilitates gas exchange under water

L. Mommer, O. Pedersen, E.J.W. Visser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Flooding imposes stress upon terrestrial plants since it severely hampers gas exchange rates between the shoot and the environment. The resulting oxygen deficiency is considered to be the major problem for submerged plants. Oxygen microelectrode studies have, however, shown that aquatic plants maintain relatively high internal oxygen pressures under water, and even may release oxygen via the roots into the sediment, also in dark. Based on these results, we challenge the dogma that oxygen pressures in submerged terrestrial plants immediately drop to levels at which aerobic respiration is impaired. The present study demonstrates that the internal oxygen pressure in the petioles of Rumex palustris plants under water is indeed well above the critical oxygen pressure for aerobic respiration, provided that the air-saturated water is not completely stagnant. The beneficial effect of shoot acclimation of this terrestrial plant species to submergence for gas exchange capacity is also shown. Shoot acclimation to submergence involved a reduction of the diffusion resistance to gases, which was not only functional by increasing diffusion of oxygen into the plant, but also by increasing influx of CO2, which enhances underwater photosynthesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1281-1287
JournalPlant, Cell & Environment
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • eelgrass zostera-marina
  • radial oxygen loss
  • aquatic macrophytes
  • shoot elongation
  • microsensor analysis
  • rumex
  • roots
  • growth
  • rice
  • photosynthesis

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