The frequency and severity of floods are expected to increase in some regions during the next decades due to climate change. This phenomenon can result in terrestrial plants and crops becoming temporarily submerged which now occurs more frequently. Some plants, e.g. floating sweet-grass possess hydrophobic leaves that retain a thin layer of air when submerged. This air layer is called a gas film, and the aim of the project is to elucidate how this mechanism enhances oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange with the floodwater under different floodwater conditions. As model plants, I will use birdsfoot trefoil and messina. Submergence experiments will be conducted to assess how the species differ in their ability to retain gas films under water, and studies with microelectrodes will be used to examine how the internal aeration of the plants depends on the gas film retention time.
Dennis Konnerup is a plant physiologist specialising in plant adaptions to flooding and submergence. His research is focused on photosynthesis under water and internal transport of gasses in plants in addition to treatment of wastewater using plants. Dennis received his PhD from Aarhus University in 2010 and has since held different postdoctoral fellowships, most of the time at the University of Western Australia.
Surviving floods – submergence tolerance of forage legumes
Area of research:
01 Feb 2018 – 31 Jul 2020
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) photograph of the surface of a leaf from floating sweet-grass (Glyceria fluitans). The leaf has grooves, papillae and wax crystals, which all contribute to its super-hydrophobicity. Photo: Dennis Konnerup