Waterlogging and submergence tolerance in rice and other wetland plants

Flooding, resulting in soil waterlogging and in many situations even complete submergence of plants, is an important abiotic stress in many regions worldwide. Flooding impacts negatively on agricultural production, and floods shape many natural plant communities (e.g. floodplains and wetlands). Most crop plants suffer when in waterlogged soil; the exception is rice, which like other wetland species thrives.

Our research aims to elucidate mechanisms of plant flooding tolerance and to improve flooding tolerance in selected crops. Research has focused on elucidation of mechanisms of root aeration, tissue anoxia tolerance, and ion transport in seedlings (e.g. rice) and older stages for crops (e.g. rice, wheat, barley), pastures (e.g. Lotus and Melilotus), and wild species including halophytes. Our studies also include screening of species used for pasture forages for flooding tolerance and detailed experiments to elucidate physiological mechanisms of tolerance of waterlogging and complete submergence. Gas-exchange by completely submerged plants, oxygen uptake for respiration and carbon-dioxide uptake for photosynthesis when under water, are key processes of interest. Projects areas currently available for prospective PhD students include: understanding responses of crops and pastures to combinations of salinity and flooding stress, and the ecophysiology of salt and flooding tolerance in halophytes – extremophiles in natural habitats of salt lakes and salt marshes, as well as the use of some halophytes for revegetation of salt affected agricultural lands.



  • Ole Pedersen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Gustavo Striker, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina