Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The benefits of stress ... in plants

Date:
November 19, 2009
Source:
American Journal of Botany
Summary:
Certain wild flax plants growing in poor soils have succeeded in balancing the stress in their lives -- these plants are less likely to experience infection from a fungal pathogen. The new study attempts to quantitatively explain how plants have evolved a specialization to serpentine soils and ultimately may help to explain floristic diversity in these unique environments.

Chronic stress in humans has been implicated in heart disease, weight gain, and diabetes, among a host of other health problems. Extreme environments, a source of chronic stress, present a challenge even for the hardiest organisms, and plants are no exception. Yet, some species somehow manage to survive, and even thrive, in stressful conditions.

A recent article by Dr. Yuri Springer in the November issue of the American Journal of Botany finds that certain wild flax plants growing in poor soils have succeeded in balancing the stress in their lives -- these plants are less likely to experience infection from a fungal pathogen. Walking the fine line between the costs associated with surviving under stressful conditions and the benefits that may be derived from growing in an environment with fewer interactions with antagonistic species is a tricky balancing act.

For plants, serpentine soils are one example of an extreme environment. Serpentine soils are those that provide a stressful medium for plant growth, due to features of the soil, such as a rocky texture, low water-holding capacity, high levels of toxic metals, and/or low levels of necessary nutrients.

Springer assessed the prevalence of fungal infections in species of the wild flax genus. Wild flax provides a model system to study serpentine tolerance; the species exhibit a range of tolerance to soil with low levels of calcium, a necessary nutrient for plant survival. He examined the correlation between disease symptoms and tolerance to serpentine soils in the context of evolutionary relationships among the species.

Springer found that wild flax populations growing in serpentine soils displayed a reduction in fungal infection. These results support the hypothesis that stressful environments may be attractive to plants because they provide a refuge from pathogens; however, the plants need to be able to survive in these extreme ecosystems. In wild flax, the fungal pathogen may have difficulty infecting plants that have low levels of calcium in their tissues due to low levels in the soil. Alternatively, the plants growing in a low nutrient soil may allocate much of their resources to defense against pathogens and herbivores due to the high costs of replacing tissue.

Based on the putative evolutionary history of the wild flaxes, tolerance to serpentine soils has evolved rapidly and repeatedly in the genus or was present in the ancestors of these wild flaxes and lost in several lineages. This is the first study to attempt to quantitatively explain how plants have evolved a specialization to serpentine soils and ultimately may help to explain floristic diversity in these unique environments.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Journal of Botany. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Springer et al. Do extreme environments provide a refuge from pathogens? A phylogenetic test using serpentine flax. American Journal of Botany, 2009; 96 (11): 2010 DOI: 10.3732/ajb.0900047

Cite This Page:

American Journal of Botany. "The benefits of stress ... in plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091119101209.htm>.
American Journal of Botany. (2009, November 19). The benefits of stress ... in plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091119101209.htm
American Journal of Botany. "The benefits of stress ... in plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091119101209.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins