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1.  Variation in tolerance of rice to long-term stagnant flooding that submerges most of the shoot will aid in breeding tolerant cultivars 
AoB Plants  2014;6:plu055.
Long-term stagnant flooding (SF, 50 cm water depth) is a major problem in rainfed lowland rice. We established a phenotyping protocol and identified tolerant landraces. Genotypes best suited to SF showed moderate elongation of 1.3–2.3 cm d−1 under SF, but semi-dwarf and fast-elongating types are intolerant. Dwarf varieties containing SUB1 are sensitive, but taller varieties with SUB1 are tolerant, suggesting the possibility of combining tolerances to complete submergence and SF. Tolerance of SF is dependent on moderate elongation, high tillering, lesser carbohydrate depletion and higher fertility. Tolerant genotypes identified here will be used for mechanistic studies and in breeding.
Stagnant flooding (SF) is a major problem in rainfed lowlands where floodwater of 25–50 cm stagnates in the field for most of the season. We aimed to establish a system for phenotyping SF tolerance and identifying tolerant germplasm through screening of landraces. A total of 626 rice accessions were evaluated over 3 years under control conditions and two levels of SF. Floodwater was raised to 20 cm at 25 or 30 days after transplanting (DAT). In one trial, the depth was increased subsequently by 5 cm a week and in another (severe stress), it was increased to 40 cm at 37 DAT and to 50 cm at 42 DAT. In both trials, water depth was maintained at 50–60 cm until maturity. In all cases, no plant was completely submerged. Plant height, elongation rate and yield were measured at maturity. Genotypes best suited to SF showed moderate elongation of 1.3–2.3 cm day−1 under SF. In contrast, semi-dwarf and fast-elongating types performed poorly. Subsequent trials using 18 genotypes, including six pairs of near isogenic lines (NILs) with or without SUB1 showed that all SUB1 NILs were sensitive to SF. Five of the other six genotypes contained SUB1 and were SF tolerant, suggesting the possibility of combining tolerances to complete submergence (SUB1) and SF. Stem starch and soluble sugar concentrations were similar under control conditions among the 18 genotypes, but starch was depleted by 37 % under SF, with less depletion in tolerant genotypes. SUB1 NILs contained similar concentrations of starch and sugars under SF. We conclude that survival and yield under SF are dependent on moderate elongation, high tillering, lesser carbohydrate depletion and higher fertility. The tolerant genotypes identified here performed strongly in both wet and dry seasons and will be used to identify tolerance mechanisms and alleles for use in marker-assisted breeding.
PMCID: PMC4196555  PMID: 25202124
Carbohydrates; rice; stagnant flooding; SUB1; tolerance mechanisms.
2.  Physiological analyses of traits associated with tolerance of long-term partial submergence in rice 
AoB Plants  2014;6:plu058.
Long-term stagnant flooding (SF, 50 cm water depth) greatly reduces rice yield. We assessed physiological mechanisms associated with SF tolerance in contrasting rice genotypes. SF reduced yield by 47% due to low biomass caused by reduced light interception and leaf growth above water; and reduced panicle number by 52% because of low tillering. Shoot elongation correlated positively with leaf growth and biomass production, but negatively with stem nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC). Tolerant varieties were either inherently tall or elongate moderately (<2.0 cm d−1) with rising floodwater. Optimum shoot elongation with rising floodwater is therefore a priority for future breeding work.
Floods are major constraints to crop production worldwide. In low-lying, flood-prone areas of the tropics, longer-term partial submergence (stagnant flooding [SF]) greatly reduces rice yield. This study assesses shoot growth and several physiological mechanisms associated with SF tolerance in rice. Five rice genotypes with contrasting responses to SF were evaluated in field ponds. Following transplanting, floodwater was gradually increased at a rate of ∼2 cm day−1 to reach a final depth of 50 cm and then maintained until maturity. Although plants were not fully submerged, the yield was reduced by 47 % across genotypes compared with those grown under control conditions (6.1 vs. 3.3 t ha−1). This reduction was mainly attributed to the reduction in biomass caused by reduced light interception and leaf growth above the water. Stagnant flooding also reduced panicle number per unit area by 52 % because of reduced tillering. Shoot elongation rate kept pace with rising floodwater and correlated positively with leaf growth and biomass production. Conversely, stem non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) concentration correlated negatively with shoot elongation rate, suggesting that fast-elongating genotypes actively consume NSCs to avoid complete submergence. Moderate shoot elongation rate strongly and positively correlated with grain yield under SF; however, elongation at rates >2.0 cm day−1 was associated with reduced harvest index due to a smaller panicle size and increased lodging. Tolerant varieties were found to be either inherently tall or elongate moderately with rising floodwater. Our studies suggest that to improve tolerance of SF an appropriate phenotype should combine both of these traits. Fine-tuning for optimum shoot elongation with rising floodwater is, therefore, a priority for future work.
PMCID: PMC4216431  PMID: 25270231
Flooding stress; rainfed lowland rice; shoot elongation; stagnant flooding; tillering
3.  Adaptation to flooding during emergence and seedling growth in rice and weeds, and implications for crop establishment 
AoB Plants  2012;2012:pls019.
Direct seeding is replacing transplanting in rice. Early flooding suppresses weeds but selective action is compromised by the sharing of flood-tolerance traits. Understanding adaptive traits in both species is therefore a prerequisite for developing direct seeding systems that control weeds while leaving rice seedlings relatively unharmed.
Background and aims
Direct seeding of rice is being adopted in rainfed and irrigated lowland ecosystems because it reduces labour costs in addition to other benefits. However, early flooding due to uneven fields or rainfall slows down seed germination and hinders crop establishment. Conversely, early flooding helps suppress weeds and reduces the costs of manual weeding and/or dependence on herbicides; however, numerous weed species are adapted to lowlands and present challenges for the use of flooding to control weeds. Advancing knowledge on the mechanisms of tolerance of flooding during germination and early growth in rice and weeds could facilitate the development of improved rice varieties and effective weed management practices for direct-seeded rice.
Principal results
Rice genotypes with a greater ability to germinate and establish in flooded soils were identified, providing opportunities to develop varieties suitable for direct seeding in flooded soils. Tolerance of flooding in these genotypes was mostly attributed to traits associated with better ability to mobilize stored carbohydrates and anaerobic metabolism. Limited studies were undertaken in weeds associated with lowland rice systems. Remaining studies compared rice and weeds and related weed species such as Echinochloa crus-galli and E. colona or compared ecotypes of the same species of Cyperus rotundus adapted to either aerobic or flooded soils.
Tolerant weeds and rice genotypes mostly developed similar adaptive traits that allow them to establish in flooded fields, including the ability to germinate and elongate faster under hypoxia, mobilize stored starch reserves and generate energy through fermentation pathways. Remarkably, some weeds developed additional traits such as larger storage tubers that enlarge further in deeper flooded soils (C. rotundus). Unravelling the mechanisms involved in adaptation to flooding will help design management options that will allow tolerant rice genotypes to adequately establish in flooded soils while simultaneously suppressing weeds.
PMCID: PMC3434364  PMID: 22957137
4.  Seed pre-treatment in rice reduces damage, enhances carbohydrate mobilization and improves emergence and seedling establishment under flooded conditions 
AoB Plants  2011;2011:plr007.
Priming rice seeds (soaking followed by drying) or soaking just before sowing improved emergence from flooded soil, reduced membrane damage from ROS and hastened carbohydrate mobilization. Most benefit was to lines with a superior ability to germinate in flooded soil even when untreated.
Background and aims
Early flooding helps control weeds but reduces seedling establishment in direct-seeded rice (Oryza sativa). When combined with appropriate management practices, the use of genotypes that better tolerate flooding during emergence can enhance crop establishment in flood-prone areas. Management options include seed pre-treatment and we tested the influence of pre-soaking for 24 h prior to sowing or of priming (soaking for 24 or 48 h followed by drying).
The effects on seedling establishment after 21-day flooding of pre-soaking seeds for 24 h before sowing and/or of priming seeds were examined together with physiological responses connected with reactive oxygen scavenging. Seeds of four lines with contrasting abilities to tolerate flooding at the germination stage were compared. Seeds were primed using KCl solutions (48 h) or water (24 h) and pre-soaked using water. Lipid peroxidation and activities of reactive oxygen-scavenging enzymes were measured in seeds before sowing. Carbohydrate mobilization in germinating seeds and seedling growth were also monitored at intervals.
Principal results
Seed pre-treatment by pre-soaking or by priming increased survival of flooding and accelerated and improved seedling establishment, especially in tolerant genotypes. Primed seeds had less lipid peroxidation and higher superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) activities than non-primed seeds. Amylase activities and starch breakdown were also hastened in primed seeds. Survival after flooding was positively correlated with amylase activity but negatively correlated with the extent of lipid peroxidation.
Pre-soaking and priming improved seedling establishment in flooded soil, enhanced the capacity to scavenge reactive oxygen species in seeds by increasing SOD and CAT activities, and hastened carbohydrate mobilization. Tolerant genotypes responded better to these treatments, emphasizing the effectiveness of combining genetic tolerance with appropriate seed pre-treatment to improve seedling establishment of rice sown in flooded soils.
PMCID: PMC3072768  PMID: 22476478
5.  Morphological and physiological responses of lowland purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus L.) to flooding 
AoB Plants  2010;2010:plq010.
Comparing a lowland and an upland ecotype of Cyperus rotundus, the former had greater carbohydrate reserves in tubers, thicker roots and stems with larger air spaces and, under hypoxia, it maintained relatively lower activities of alcohol dehydrogenase and lactate dehydrogenase.
Background and aims
Purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus L.) is a major weed of upland crops and vegetables. Recently, a flood-tolerant ecotype evolved as a serious weed in lowland rice. This study attempted to establish the putative growth and physiological features that led to this shift in adaptation.
Tubers of upland C. rotundus (ULCR) and lowland C. rotundus (LLCR) ecotypes were collected from their native habitats and maintained under the respective growth conditions in a greenhouse. Five experiments were conducted to assess the variation between the two ecotypes in germination, growth and tuber morphology when grown in their native or ‘switched’ conditions. Carbohydrate storage and mobilization, and variation in anaerobic respiration under hypoxia were compared.
Principal results
Tubers of LLCR were larger than those of ULCR, with higher carbohydrate content, and larger tubers developed with increasing floodwater depth. Stems of LLCR had larger diameter and proportionally larger air spaces than those of ULCR: a method of aerating submerged plant parts. The LLCR ecotype can also mobilize and use carbohydrate reserves under hypoxia, and it maintained relatively lower and steadier activity of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) as a measure of sustained anaerobic respiration. In contrast, ADH activity in ULCR increased faster upon a shift to hypoxia and then sharply decreased, suggesting depletion of available soluble sugar substrates. The LLCR ecotype also maintained lower lactate dehydrogenase activity under flooded conditions, which could reduce chances of cellular acidosis.
These adaptive traits in the LLCR ecotype were expressed constitutively, but some of them, such as tuber growth and aerenchyma development, are enhanced with stress severity. The LLCR ecotype attained numerous adaptive traits that could have evolved as a consequence of natural evolution or repeated management practices, and alternative strategies are necessary because flooding is no longer a feasible management option.
PMCID: PMC3000701  PMID: 22476068

Results 1-5 (5)