Reactive oxygen species mediate growth and death in submerged plants
Aquatic and semi-aquatic plants are well adapted to survive partial or complete submergence which is commonly accompanied by oxygen deprivation. The gaseous hormone ethylene controls a number of adaptive responses to submergence including adventitious root growth and aerenchyma formation. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) act as signaling intermediates in ethylene-controlled submergence adaptation and possibly also independent of ethylene. ROS levels are controlled by synthesis, enzymatic metabolism, and non-enzymatic scavenging. While the actors are by and large known, we still have to learn about altered ROS at the subcellular level and how they are brought about, and the signaling cascades that trigger a specific response. This review briefly summarizes our knowledge on the contribution of ROS to submergence adaptation and describes spectrophotometrical, histochemical, and live cell imaging detection methods that have been used to study changes in ROS abundance. Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy is introduced as a method that allows identification and quantification of specific ROS in cell compartments. The use of advanced technologies such as EPR spectroscopy will be necessary to untangle the intricate and partially interwoven signaling networks of ethylene and ROS.