Submergence and Waterlogging Stress in Plants: A Review Highlighting Research Opportunities and Understudied Aspects

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Soil flooding creates composite and complex stress in plants known as either submergence or waterlogging stress depending on the depth of the water table. In nature, these stresses are important factors dictating the species composition of the ecosystem. On agricultural land, they cause economic damage associated with long-term social consequences. The understanding of the plant molecular responses to these two stresses has benefited from research studying individual components of the stress, in particular low-oxygen stress. To a lesser extent, other associated stresses and plant responses have been incorporated into the molecular framework, such as ion and ROS signaling, pathogen susceptibility, and organ-specific expression and development. In this review, we aim to highlight known or suspected components of submergence/waterlogging stress that have not yet been thoroughly studied at the molecular level in this context, such as miRNA and retrotransposon expression, the influence of light/dark cycles, protein isoforms, root architecture, sugar sensing and signaling, post-stress molecular events, heavy-metal and salinity stress, and mRNA dynamics (splicing, sequestering, and ribosome loading). Finally, we explore biotechnological strategies that have applied this molecular knowledge to develop cultivars resistant to flooding or to offer alternative uses of flooding-prone soils, like bioethanol and biomass production.

hypoxia, anoxia, biotechnology, cell signaling, stress perception, submergence, waterlogging