Submergence-induced leaf acclimation in terrestrial species varying in flooding tolerance

L. Mommer, M. Wolters-Arts, C. Andersen, E.J.W. Visser, O. Pedersen

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Earlier work on the submergence-tolerant species Rumex palustris revealed that leaf anatomical and morphological changes induced by submergence enhance underwater gas exchange considerably. Here, the hypothesis is tested that these plastic responses are typical properties of submergence-tolerant species. ¿ Submergence-induced plasticity in leaf mass area (LMA) and leaf, cell wall and cuticle thickness was investigated in nine plant species differing considerably in tolerance to complete submergence. The functionality of the responses for underwater gas exchange was evaluated by recording oxygen partial pressures inside the petioles when plants were submerged. ¿ Acclimation to submergence resulted in a decrease in all leaf parameters, including cuticle thickness, in all species irrespective of flooding tolerance. Consequently, internal oxygen partial pressures (pO2) increased significantly in all species until values were close to air saturation. Only in nonacclimated leaves in darkness did intolerant species have a significantly lower pO2 than tolerant species. ¿ These results suggest that submergence-induced leaf plasticity, albeit a prerequisite for underwater survival, does not discriminate tolerant from intolerant species. It is hypothesized that these plastic leaf responses may be induced in all species by several signals present during submergence; for example, low LMA may be a response to low photosynthate concentrations and a thin cuticle may be a response to high relative humidity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-345
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • deep-water rice
  • amphibious plants
  • photosynthesis
  • plasticity
  • responses
  • elongation
  • shade
  • environments
  • communities
  • performance

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