Rhizome phyllosphere oxygenation in Phragmites and other species in relation to redox potential, convective gas flow, submergence and aeration pathways


Author for correspondence: J. Armstrong Tel: +44 1482 465527 Fax: +44 1482 465458 Email: j.armstrong@hull.ac.uk


  • • Underground rhizomes of emergent aquatic macrophytes are important for perennation, vegetative spread, competition and anchorage. In four species we examined the potential for the development of oxidized phyllospheres around rhizome apical buds, similar to the protective oxygenated rhizospheres around roots.
  • • Redox potentials and polarographic measurements of radial oxygen loss were recorded using platinum cathodes around the apical buds. The aeration pathway from atmosphere to phyllosphere was investigated anatomically and by applied pressurized gas flow.
  • • Redox potentials increased by +400, +45, +200 and +340 mV around rhizome apices of Phragmites australis, Oryza rhizomatis, Carex rostrata and Glyceria maxima, respectively. Radial oxygen loss from rhizome apices of Phragmites was increased by convective gas flow through the rhizome and by shoot de-submergence, and decreased by resistances applied within the aeration pathway and by shoot submergence.
  • • We conclude that oxygen passes via internal gas-space connections between aerial shoot, rhizome and underground buds and into the phyllosphere regions via scale-leaf stomata and surfaces on the buds. We suggest that oxidized phyllospheres may protect rhizome apices against phytotoxins in waterlogged soils, just as oxidized rhizospheres protect roots.