Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 37–46 | Cite as

Some aspects of the extreme anoxia tolerance of the sweet flag,Acorus calamus L.

  • Michel Weber
  • Roland Brändle


Acorus calamus L. is a neophyte in Europe with remarkable properties. Among other things, it is the most anoxial tolerant species and a competitive invader at eutrophic sites. The following overview presents the most recent work on these subjects. Carbohydrates of the rhizomes sustain anaerobic ATP production for very long periods. Ethanolic fermentation naturally occurs in winter and produces rather low, but sufficient amounts of ATP for survival, as shown by adenylate energy charge and total adenylate content. Fermentation energy is mainly used for the synthesis and preservation of essential macromolecules, such as proteins and membrane lipids. The extent of these processes is unique. Moreover, ammonia and sulphide uptake is maintained during the cold season. Both ions are detoxified to alanine and thiols which are translocated into the rhizome, where the nitrogen of alanine is used to form arginine. Overwintering leaves contain asparagine instead of arginine. Recycled nitrogen compounds from the rapidly degrading summer leaves return into the rhizomes. Therefore, the nitrogen nutrition consists of an external and internal cycle. The abundance of carbohydrates and nitrogen compounds allows spring shoot growth earlier than other species. These strategies could contribute markedly to the competitive power ofA. calamus at its natural site.


Ammonia Energy metabolism Fermentation Macromolecule synthesis Membrane stability Oxygen deprivation Sulphide 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michel Weber
    • 1
  • Roland Brändle
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Plant PhysiologyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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