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Progress towards developing plants that accommodate climate change

Date:
October 11, 2011
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
The ability to promote agricultural and conservation successes in the face of rapid environmental change will partly hinge on scientists' understanding of how plants adapt to local climate.

The adaptability of a strain of the Arabidopsis plant to any particular climate is determined by a relatively small number of genes -- in most cases, around 100 genes. In this study, these genes were identified in various strains of Arabidopsis.
Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation

The ability to promote agricultural and conservation successes in the face of rapid environmental change will partly hinge on scientists' understanding of how plants adapt to local climate.

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To improve scientists' understanding of this phenomenon, a study in the Oct. 7, 2011 issue of Science helps define the genetic bases of plant adaptations to local climate.

The National Science Foundation partly funded the study, which was conducted by Alexandre Fournier-Level of Brown University and colleagues.

The study involved growing a diverse panel of strains of the mustard plant, Arabidopsis, in various locations within its native range in Finland, Germany, England and Spain. Then, the genetic mutations increasing plant fitness in each of these locations were identified.

Results show that the preferred climate of each strain of Arabidopsis is conferred by the presence of a relatively small number of genes; different sets of genes control adaptability to different types of climates; and the presence of a particular set of climate genes in a single plant is not necessarily mutually exclusive to the presence of another.

These findings mean that it may be possible to combine various sets of climate genes in a single Arabidopsis strain in order to generate a strain that would be able to thrive in multiple types of climates. Such adaptability would help the plant accommodate climate change.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Fournier-Level, A. Korte, M. D. Cooper, M. Nordborg, J. Schmitt, A. M. Wilczek. A Map of Local Adaptation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Science, 2011; 334 (6052): 86 DOI: 10.1126/science.1209271

Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Progress towards developing plants that accommodate climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011154453.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2011, October 11). Progress towards developing plants that accommodate climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011154453.htm
National Science Foundation. "Progress towards developing plants that accommodate climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011154453.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

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Plants May Have the Genetic Flexibility to Respond to Climate Change

Oct. 6, 2011 — Plants may have the genetic flexibility to respond to climate change. In experiments with the common European plant Arabidopsis thaliana, scientists have learned that climate is the agent that ... read more

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