• The exploitation of natural variation in Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) provides a huge potential for the identification of the molecular mechanisms underlying this variation as a result of the availability of a vast array of genetic and genomic resources for this species. Eighty-six Arabidopsis accessions were screened for natural variation in flooding tolerance. This forms the first step towards the identification and characterization of the role of candidate genes contributing to flooding tolerance. • Arabidopsis accessions at the 10-leaf stage were subjected to complete submergence in the dark. Survival curves were plotted to estimate median lethal times as a measure of tolerance. Flooding-associated survival parameters, such as root and shoot oxygen content, initial carbohydrate content and petiole elongation under water, were also measured. • There was a significant variation in submergence tolerance among Arabidopsis accessions. However, the order of tolerance did not correlate with root and shoot oxygen content or initial amounts of shoot starch and total soluble sugars. A negative correlation was observed between submergence tolerance and underwater petiole elongation. • Arabidopsis accessions show considerable variation in the ability to tolerate complete submergence, making it a good species in which to identify and characterize genes and to study mechanisms that contribute to survival under water.
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