Research visit to the University of Western Australia

Dennis and I have been working for the past 2 weeks with flood tolerance of Melilotus siculus (mesina) and two species of Lotus. They all possess superhydrophobic leaf cuticles and thus they retain a gas film when submerged in water. We have exposed mesina to a gradient of NaCl to unravel the sensitivity of underwater photosynthesis to NaCl. We have manipulated the gas films as we have hypothesized that these can protect the tissue against ion intrusion, at least initially during a submergence event. Moreover, we have exposed plants to flood solutions with mannitol in order to separate toxic effects of Na or Cl from osmotic shock. So far, the results look super-exciting and I hope that Dennis will be able to write up the paper within the next couples of months. The bottleneck could, however, be the tissue ion analyses that Lukasz Kotula is going to perform once he is back from his holiday in Poland…

Submerged Lotus with leaf gas films by Ole PedersenJPG

Lotus tenuis under water with numerous large gas bubbles that derive from extensive underwater photosynthesis. L. tenuis has superhydrophobic leaves and retains a thin leaf gas films for several days when submerged into water.