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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

Authors

  • SARAH MEGHAN RICH,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Plant Biology (M084), Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
    2. Future Farm Industries CRC, The University of Western Australia (M081), 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
      S. M. Rich. E-mail: sarah.rich@grs.uwa.edu.au
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  • OLE PEDERSEN,

    1. School of Plant Biology (M084), Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
    2. Freshwater Biological Laboratory, Institute of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Helsingørsgade 51, DK-3400 Hillerød, Denmark
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  • MARTHA LUDWIG,

    1. School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. (M310), Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences
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  • TIMOTHY DAVID COLMER

    1. School of Plant Biology (M084), Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
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S. M. Rich. E-mail: sarah.rich@grs.uwa.edu.au

ABSTRACT

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 O2 dynamics in the submerged stems and aquatic roots of partially submerged plants were similar to those of completely submerged plants, with internal O2 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 O2 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 O2 movement down stems. Therefore, regardless of the presence of an aerial connection, the deeper portions of submerged organs sourced most of their O2 via inwards diffusion from the water column during the night, and endogenous production in underwater photosynthesis during the daytime.

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