Physiology, gene expression, and metabolome of two wheat cultivars with contrasting submergence tolerance

Max Herzog*, Takeshi Fukao, Anders Winkel, Dennis Konnerup, Suman Lamichhane, Jasper Benedict Alpuerto, Harald Hasler-Sheetal, Ole Pedersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Responses of wheat (Triticum aestivum) to complete submergence are not well understood as research has focused on waterlogging (soil flooding). The aim of this study was to characterize the responses of 2 wheat cultivars differing vastly in submergence tolerance to test if submergence tolerance was linked to shoot carbohydrate consumption as seen in rice. Eighteen-day-old wheat cultivars Frument (intolerant) and Jackson (tolerant) grown in soil were completely submerged for up to 19 days while assessing responses in physiology, gene expression, and shoot metabolome. Results revealed 50% mortality after 9.3 and 15.9 days of submergence in intolerant Frument and tolerant Jackson, respectively, and significantly higher growth in Jackson during recovery. Frument displayed faster leaf degradation as evident from leaf tissue porosity, chlorophylla, and metabolomic fingerprinting. Surprisingly, shoot soluble carbohydrates, starch, and individual sugars declined to similarly low levels in both cultivars by day 5, showing that cultivar Jackson tolerated longer periods of low shoot carbohydrate levels than Frument. Moreover, intolerant Frument showed higher levels of phytol and the lipid peroxidation marker malondialdehyde relative to tolerant Jackson. Consequently, we propose to further investigate the role of ethylene sensitivity and deprivation of reactive O2 species in submerged wheat.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1632-1644
Publication statusPublished - 1. Jul 2018


  • flood tolerance
  • gene expression
  • metabolomics
  • shoot carbohydrates
  • submergence
  • Triticum aestivum
  • wheat


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