How Drought Length Affects Two Types of Pondweeds with Different Growth Patterns

Jenn Hoskins
1st June, 2024

How Drought Length Affects Two Types of Pondweeds with Different Growth Patterns

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by Maastricht University examined how two Potamogeton species cope with drought conditions
  • Both species showed resilience to short-term droughts (1-5 days) but had high mortality after 15 days
  • Potamogeton nodosus, with aerial leaves, adapted better to drought than the fully submerged Potamogeton perfoliatus
Aquatic plant communities are increasingly vulnerable to climate extremes, particularly droughts, which can significantly impact their survival and functionality. Recognizing this, a recent study by Maastricht University[1] investigated how different species of the genus Potamogeton (pondweeds) cope with drought conditions. This study is crucial as it sheds light on the resilience mechanisms of aquatic plants, which are essential for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem stability in the face of climate change. The study focused on two Potamogeton species: Potamogeton perfoliatus, which is completely submerged, and Potamogeton nodosus, which produces aerial leaves. These species were subjected to varying drought conditions (1, 5, and 15 days) in a controlled microcosm experiment to observe their responses to air exposure while having waterlogged sediments. The researchers aimed to determine which species could better withstand drought and to provide insights for water management practices. Both species exhibited resilience to short-term drought (1-5 days), but significant mortality was observed after 15 days of drought. The study measured several parameters, including shoot length, side shoot and leaf counts, plant chemistry (carbon, nitrogen, and phosphate content), and biomass production (shoot, root, leaves). The results showed marked differences in the morphological and chemical responses of the two species to increasing drought durations. Potamogeton nodosus, with its aerial leaves, showed better adaptation to air exposure compared to the fully submerged Potamogeton perfoliatus. This finding aligns with previous research indicating that plants with morphological adaptations to air-exposed conditions are more resilient to drought[2]. In Potamogeton perfoliatus, the lack of such adaptations resulted in higher mortality rates under prolonged drought conditions. The study's findings are consistent with earlier research on plant responses to environmental stress. For instance, a study on thermotolerance in Potamogeton species found that the ability to develop acquired thermotolerance is crucial for survival under extreme temperatures[2]. Similarly, the current study highlights the importance of specific morphological and physiological traits in determining drought resilience in aquatic plants. Moreover, the research underscores the broader implications of climate change on plant communities. A study on the European heatwave in 2003 revealed that severe heat and drought could drastically reduce primary productivity and turn ecosystems into net carbon sources[3]. The current study adds to this understanding by showing how drought can affect aquatic plant species differently, potentially altering ecosystem dynamics and carbon cycling. The insights from this study are also relevant to ongoing research on plant stress memory and drought adaptation. Plants exposed to repeated drought cycles can develop stress memory, which enhances their resilience to future droughts[4]. The current study's findings on the differential responses of Potamogeton species to drought contribute to this body of knowledge, suggesting that morphological traits play a significant role in stress memory and adaptation. Furthermore, the study's recommendations for water management practices are crucial for mitigating the impacts of drought on aquatic plant communities. By identifying areas at risk and increasing water levels during dry periods, water managers can help maintain plant health and reduce mortality rates. This approach aligns with the broader goal of improving plant responses to drought through targeted interventions, such as engineering hormone signaling in specific cells to enhance drought resistance[5]. In conclusion, the Maastricht University study provides valuable insights into the drought resilience of aquatic plants, emphasizing the importance of morphological adaptations in coping with climate extremes. The findings have significant implications for ecosystem management and highlight the need for proactive measures to protect aquatic plant communities in a changing climate.

EnvironmentEcologyPlant Science


Main Study

1) The impact of drought duration on two Potamogeton species with different growth forms

Published 31st May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Comparative studies of thermotolerance: different modes of heat acclimation between tolerant and intolerant aquatic plants of the genus Potamogeton.

3) Europe-wide reduction in primary productivity caused by the heat and drought in 2003.

Journal: Nature, Issue: Vol 437, Issue 7058, Sep 2005

4) Stress Memory and the Inevitable Effects of Drought: A Physiological Perspective.

5) The physiology of plant responses to drought.

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