Plants Use 'Snorkels' To Survive Floods

April 12, 1999

When flooded by water, some plants rapidly send up shoots above the surface and use the new leaves as a kind of 'snorkel'. Dutch biologists are going to investigate the way plants control this adaptive behaviour. It is hoped that the insights gained will ultimately make it possible to select crops which can cope with floods and high water levels. Funding for the project will take the form of a PIONEER subsidy from NWO.

When a plant is submerged during a flood, the level of ethylene gas in the plant rises and the concentration of oxygen falls. So as not to 'drown', certain plants use rapidly growing new shoots as a means of channelling life-saving oxygen through the stalks and roots to their root tips. Up to now, it has been unclear why certain species are capable of triggering this adaptive reaction while other closely related ones are not.

The Dutch biologists hope to unravel this process of underwater growth at the physiological and molecular level. It is clear that the plant perceives the change from air to water and that ethylene and the receptor of this gas on the cell membrane play a role in its doing so. Various hormones evidently give the alarm to various parts of the plant so that the cells can react by accelerating their longitudinal growth and producing the life-saving shoots.

Differences in the capacity to adapt to flooding have a major impact on the natural distribution of plants in low-lying river areas. In such areas in the Netherlands, some species can only be found in locations which are rarely flooded, for example dikes and embankments, whereas other species can be found outside the dikes in low-lying areas which are frequently flooded.
-end-


Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

Related Plants Articles from Brightsurf:

When plants attack: parasitic plants use ethylene as a host invasion signal
Researchers from Nara Institute of Science and Technology have found that parasitic plants use the plant hormone ethylene as a signal to invade host plants.

210 scientists highlight state of plants and fungi in Plants, People, Planet special issue
The Special Issue, 'Protecting and sustainably using the world's plants and fungi', brings together the research - from 210 scientists across 42 countries - behind the 2020 State of the World's Plants and Fungi report, also released today by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

New light for plants
Scientists from ITMO in collaboration with their colleagues from Tomsk Polytechnic University came up with an idea to create light sources from ceramics with the addition of chrome: the light from such lamps offers not just red but also infrared (IR) light, which is expected to have a positive effect on plants' growth.

How do plants forget?
The study now published in Nature Cell Biology reveals more information on the capacity of plants, identified as 'epigenetic memory,' which allows recording important information to, for example, remember prolonged cold in the winter to ensure they flower at the right time during the spring.

The revolt of the plants: The arctic melts when plants stop breathing
A joint research team from POSTECH and the University of Zurich identifies a physiologic mechanism in vegetation as cause for Artic warming.

How plants forget
New work published in Nature Cell Biology from an international team led by Dr.

Ordering in? Plants are way ahead of you
Dissolved carbon in soil can quench plants' ability to communicate with soil microbes, allowing plants to fine-tune their relationships with symbionts.

When good plants go bad
Conventional wisdom suggests that only introduced species can be considered invasive and that indigenous plant life cannot be classified as such because they belong within their native range.

How plants handle stress
Plants get stressed too. Drought or too much salt disrupt their physiology.

Can plants tell us something about longevity?
The oldest living organism on Earth is a plant, Methuselah a bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) (pictured below) that is over 5,000 years old.

Read More: Plants News and Plants Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.