Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene flow may help plants adapt to climate change

Date:
June 29, 2011
Source:
University of California - Davis
Summary:
The traffic of genes among populations may help living things better adapt to climate change, especially when genes flow among groups most affected by warming, according to a new study.

The traffic of genes among populations may help living things better adapt to climate change, especially when genes flow among groups most affected by warming, according to a UC Davis study of the Sierra Nevada cutleaved monkeyflower. The results were published online June 27 by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related Articles


The findings have implications for conservation strategies, said Sharon Strauss, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis and an author of the study.

"In extreme cases where we might consider augmenting genetic resources available to imperiled populations, it might be best to obtain these genes from populations inhabiting similar kinds of habitats," Strauss said.

Graduate student Jason Sexton, with Strauss and Kevin Rice, professor of plant sciences, studied the monkeyflower (Mimulus laciniatus), an annual plant that lives in mossy areas of the Sierra at elevations of 3,200 feet to 10,000 feet.

Mountain gradients are useful for studying the effects of climate change, Strauss said, because they enable scientists to reproduce the effects of climate change without changing other factors, such as day length. The plants are already living across a range of temperatures, with those at lower elevations exposed to warmer conditions.

Sexton cross-pollinated monkeyflowers from two different locations at the warm, low-elevation edge of the plants' range with monkeyflowers from the middle of the range. All the hybrids were then grown in the field at the low end of the range.

As the researchers observed the growing monkeyflowers, they were able to test two contrasting predictions about how gene flow should affect plants at the edge of the range. The first prediction was that any mixing of genes from a wider population would help plants adapt to warming conditions. The second was that genes from the center of the range that did not help plants adapt would dilute any adaptive genes, negating their benefit.

"Gene flow" describes the movement of genetic traits within and among populations, as individual animals or plants breed.

To answer these questions, the researchers measured how the mixing of genes from different elevations affected the plants' ability to live at the warm edge of their range, through traits such as time for seedlings to emerge, time to flowering and overall reproductive success.

The study showed that the first prediction was true -- gene flow did help the plants adapt to a warmer environment.

"We generally found that there were benefits from gene flow, but gene flow from other warm-edge areas was most beneficial," Strauss said.

Sexton noted that hybrids of monkeyflowers from two warm-edge populations did better than either of their parents, perhaps because the populations had been using different genes to adapt to warm environments.

"When added together, their performance jumped," he said.

Often considered genetically meager, edge populations should be high-priority conservation targets since they may possess adaptations to their unique environments, Sexton said.

The work was funded by the California Native Plant Society, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Science Foundation. Sexton is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. P. Sexton, S. Y. Strauss, K. J. Rice. Gene flow increases fitness at the warm edge of a species' range. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1100404108

Cite This Page:

University of California - Davis. "Gene flow may help plants adapt to climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628163329.htm>.
University of California - Davis. (2011, June 29). Gene flow may help plants adapt to climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628163329.htm
University of California - Davis. "Gene flow may help plants adapt to climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628163329.htm (accessed March 3, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

AFP (Mar. 3, 2015) A goblin shark, a rare sea creature described as an &apos;alien of the deep&apos; is found off Australia and delivered to the Australian Museum in Sydney. Duration: 01:25 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
500 Snakes Surprise Construction Workers In Canada

500 Snakes Surprise Construction Workers In Canada

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Hundreds of snakes, disturbed by a construction project, were relocated to a wildlife rescue association in Canada. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) If a doctor advises you to remove gluten from your diet, you could get a tax deduction on the amount you spend on gluten-free foods. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Zookeepers Copy Animal Poses In Hilarious Viral Photos

Zookeepers Copy Animal Poses In Hilarious Viral Photos

Buzz60 (Mar. 2, 2015) Zookeepers at the Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh, Australia decided to take some of their favorite animal photos and recreate them by posing just like the animals. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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