About this Research Topic
The duckweeds (Lemnaceae) are a family of simple, higher plants at the far end of the monocotyledon subdivision. All of the 5 genera and 37 species are aquatic, mostly sweet water, mostly floaters or slightly submerged, and all have extremely reduced anatomies. The leaf-like frond of the largest is only about 1-1.5 cm in size, while the smallest possesses a simple thallus measuring about 0.5 mm. Duckweeds can flower, but normally propagate vegetatively, both in nature and in the laboratory, by budding from one or two meristematic zones on the frond or thallus. Some genera have adventitious roots with root caps which may be more for stability in the water than nutrient uptake; the latter task is managed by the entire underside of the frond. Some species are devoid of roots altogether.
As its name implies, duckweeds are a favorite food source for fowl and several fish and other animals as well. Under optimal conditions in nature or in the laboratory, several species can double their biomass almost daily, with protein content reaching 40% or more of the dry weight. In controlled conditions, they can be grown axenically, either autotrophically, mixotrophically, or heterotrophically, in defined inorganic or organic liquid medium, or on agar. In addition, the genomes of some duckweeds are among the smallest for a higher plant. Coupled with the increasing abilities of several groups to genetically transform various species of this aquatic family, think "upcoming model system" or "biotech applications."
Indeed, R&D and applications involving duckweeds are in bloom. Advances across the board in duckweed biochemistry, molecular biology/molecular genetics and physiology, ecotoxicology and phytoremediation, interactions with different environments, ecosystems and climatic conditions, nutrients and natural products, biofuels and biomass production, are among the subject matters to be addressed in this Research Topic.
Keywords: Lemnaceae, molecular genetics, ecotoxicology, natural products, physiology