Introduction to the Special Issue: Electrons, water and rice fields: plant response and adaptation to flooding and submergence stress uri icon

abstract

  • Flooding and submergence impose widespread and unpredictable environmental stresses on plants and depress the yield of most food crops. The problem is increasing, as is the need for greater food production from an expanding human population. The incompatibility of these opposing trends creates an urgent need to improve crop resilience to flooding in its multifarious forms. This Special Issue brings together research findings from diverse plant species to address the challenge of enhancing adaptation to flooding in major crops and learning from tactics of wetland plants. Here we provide an overview of the articles, with attempts to summarize how recent research results are being used to produce varieties of crop plants with greater flooding tolerance, notably in rice. The progress is considerable and based firmly on molecular and physiological research findings. The article also sets out how next-generation improvements in crop tolerance are likely to be achieved and highlights some of the new research that is guiding the development of improved varieties. The potential for non-model species from the indigenous riparian flora to uncover and explain novel adaptive mechanisms of flooding tolerance that may be introduced into crop species is also explored. The article begins by considering how, despite the essential role of water in sustaining plant life, floodwater can threaten its existence unless appropriate adaptations are present. Central to resolving the contradiction is the distinction between the essential role of cellular water as the source of electrons and protons used to build and operate the plant after combining with CO2 and O-2 and the damaging role of extracellular water that, in excess, interferes with the union of these gases with photosynthetic or respiratory electrons and protons.

publication date

  • 2015
  • 2015
  • 2015