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Plant Cell Environ. 2013 Jan;36(1):213-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2012.02568.x. Epub 2012 Jul 19.

Shoot atmospheric contact is of little importance to aeration of deeper portions of the wetland plant Meionectes brownii; submerged organs mainly acquire O2 from the water column or produce it endogenously in underwater photosynthesis.

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School of Plant Biology (M084), Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. (M310), The University of Western Australia (M081), 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.


Partial shoot submergence is considered less stressful than complete submergence of plants, as aerial contact allows gas exchange with the atmosphere. In situ microelectrode studies of the wetland plant Meionectes brownii showed that O(2) dynamics in the submerged stems and aquatic roots of partially submerged plants were similar to those of completely submerged plants, with internal O(2) concentrations in both organs dropping to less than 5 kPa by dawn regardless of submergence level. The anatomy at the nodes and the relationship between tissue porosity and rates of O(2) diffusion through stems were studied. Stem internodes contained aerenchyma and had mean gas space area of 17.7% per cross section, whereas nodes had 8.2%, but nodal porosity was highly variable, some nodes had very low porosity or were completely occluded (ca. 23% of nodes sampled). The cumulative effect of these low porosity nodes would have impeded internal O(2) movement down stems. Therefore, regardless of the presence of an aerial connection, the deeper portions of submerged organs sourced most of their O(2) via inwards diffusion from the water column during the night, and endogenous production in underwater photosynthesis during the daytime.

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