Review of wheat improvement for waterlogging tolerance in Australia and India: the importance of anaerobiosis and element toxicities associated with different soils

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Background and Aims

The lack of knowledge about key traits in field environments is a major constraint to germplasm improvement and crop management because waterlogging-prone environments are highly diverse and complex, and the mechanisms of tolerance to waterlogging include a large range of traits. A model is proposed that waterlogging tolerance is a product of tolerance to anaerobiosis and high microelement concentrations. This is further evaluated with the aim of prioritizing traits required for waterlogging tolerance of wheat in the field.


Waterlogging tolerance mechanisms of wheat are evaluated in a range of diverse environments through a review of past research in Australia and India; this includes selected soils and plant data, including plant growth under waterlogged and drained conditions in different environments. Measurements focus on changes in redox potential and concentrations of diverse elements in soils and plants during waterlogging.

Key Results

(a) Waterlogging tolerance of wheat in one location often does not relate to another, and (b) element toxicities are often a major constraint in waterlogged environments. Important element toxicities in different soils during waterlogging include Mn, Fe, Na, Al and B. This is the first time that Al and B toxicities have been indicated for wheat in waterlogged soils in India. These results support and extend the well-known interactions of salinity/Na and waterlogging/hypoxia tolerance.


Diverse element toxicities (or deficiencies) that are exacerbated during waterlogging are proposed as a major reason why waterlogging tolerance at one site is often not replicated at another. Recommendations for germplasm improvement for waterlogging tolerance include use of inductively coupled plasma analyses of soils and plants.

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