Anatomical adaptive strategies to flooding and rhizosphere oxidation in mangrove seedlings

T. Youssef, P. Saenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


Limited information exists on the relation between the capacity of mangrove seedlings to oxidise the rhizosphere and their differential waterlogging tolerance. Laboratory experiments were conducted to estimate radial oxygen loss (ROL) by the entire root, the area of oxidising sites (AOS) on the root surface, root porosity (POR), and the internal diffusive resistance in the ground tissue of seedlings of six mangrove species that show a differential response to flooding. Radial oxygen loss was extremely low in all viviparous seedlings (0.7-1.5 μmol O2 per cm2AOS per day). Differential tolerance of species coincided with the degree of porosity (14.8-45.7%) and the ability of seedlings to develop barriers to oxygen leakage on the root surface. The percentage area of lacunae in the ground tissue of seedlings of the four viviparous species revealed a constriction of the air flow path at the hypocotyl junction. These findings suggest that: (i) the differential tolerance to waterlogging in mangrove seedlings is not simply based on their ability to oxidise the rhizosphere; (ii) the high diffusive resistance in the hypocotyl junction is likely to affect root aeration when the plant's access to air is limited by partial or total submergence; and (iii) waterlogging tolerance is probably a function of the strategy by which roots conserve oxygen to maintain aerobic metabolism for longer periods during submergence. Implications of these findings in seedlings are discussed in relation to other anatomical and morphological adaptations to waterlogging in mature mangroves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-313
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Journal of Botany
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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