How Mint Plants Adapt Their Roots to Flooded Conditions

Jenn Hoskins
22nd March, 2024

How Mint Plants Adapt Their Roots to Flooded Conditions

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Wild mint adapts to waterlogged soils by growing new roots that improve survival
  • These new roots have more carbs, proteins, and antioxidants, protecting the plant
  • The study identified specific genes linked to these beneficial changes in the roots
Waterlogging presents a significant challenge for agriculture, particularly in low-lying, rainfed regions where excess water can severely impact plant growth and crop yields. This phenomenon affects a range of crops, including economically important ones like soybeans and cucumbers. Researchers from the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP) have recently shed light on how certain plants adapt to these stressful conditions, focusing on Mentha arvensis, commonly known as wild mint[1]. Mentha arvensis has demonstrated a remarkable ability to cope with waterlogged soils by developing adventitious roots (ARs). These roots, which form from non-root tissues, help the plant to survive by improving water and nutrient uptake when the main root system is compromised. The recent study aimed to delve deeper into this adaptive mechanism by analyzing the changes in gene expression that occur during AR development in response to waterlogging. The study found that when Mentha arvensis is subjected to waterlogged conditions, its ARs exhibit increased levels of total carbohydrates and proteins, as well as a heightened activity of antioxidants such as catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD). These biochemical parameters are crucial for the plant's survival under stress, as they help to counteract the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can accumulate in plants under waterlogged conditions. To understand the genetic basis of these physiological changes, the researchers performed transcriptome analysis, comparing the gene expression in the ARs induced by waterlogging to that in the control taproots. They identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs) that were grouped into four functional categories: carbohydrate metabolism, antioxidant activity, hormonal regulation, and transcription factors. This categorization suggests that these processes play a vital role in the development of ARs and the plant's response to waterlogging stress. The findings from the CSIR-CIMAP study are in line with previous research that has explored the effects of waterlogging on other crops. For instance, a study on soybean varieties revealed that waterlogging stress increases antioxidant enzyme activity and that treatment with uniconazole, a plant growth regulator, can mitigate some of the adverse effects by enhancing the plant's antioxidant defense mechanisms[2]. Similarly, research on cucumber demonstrated that the production of ARs in response to waterlogging is regulated by the interaction between sugars and the plant hormone auxin, with light also playing a significant role[3]. Another study on cucumber highlighted the involvement of hormones like ethylene and auxin, as well as ROS, in the regulation of AR formation under waterlogged conditions[4]. The current study expands on these earlier findings by providing a more detailed genetic perspective on how ARs develop in response to waterlogging. The identification of thirty-five transcripts that were upregulated or uniquely expressed in the ARs not only contributes to our understanding of the adaptive mechanisms of Mentha arvensis but also offers potential targets for enhancing waterlogging tolerance in other crops. By validating the differential expression of these genes through qRT-PCR, the researchers have laid the groundwork for future functional characterization, which could lead to the development of more resilient plant varieties. In conclusion, the study from CSIR-CIMAP offers valuable insights into the genetic changes that enable Mentha arvensis to thrive in waterlogged environments. By unveiling the specific genes and pathways involved in AR development, this research not only advances our knowledge of plant adaptation and survival but also has implications for agricultural practices and crop improvement strategies in areas prone to waterlogging.

BiotechGeneticsPlant Science


Main Study

1) Transcriptome analysis of waterlogging-induced adventitious root and control taproot of Mentha arvensis.

Published 20th March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Physiological response of soybean leaves to uniconazole under waterlogging stress at R1 stage.

3) Sugar enhances waterlogging-induced adventitious root formation in cucumber by promoting auxin transport and signalling.

4) Waterlogging-induced adventitious root formation in cucumber is regulated by ethylene and auxin through reactive oxygen species signalling.

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