Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Grazers, pollinators shape plant evolution

Date:
October 21, 2013
Source:
Uppsala University
Summary:
It has long been known that the characteristics of many plants with wide ranges can vary geographically, depending on differences in climate. But changes in grazing pressure and pollination can also affect the genetic composition of natural plant populations, according to a new study.

Pyrgus malvae. The study shows that grazing pressure impacts not only which plants dominate but also the genetic composition of the plant populations.
Credit: Jon Agren

It has long been known that the characteristics of many plants with wide ranges can vary geographically, depending on differences in climate. But changes in grazing pressure and pollination can also affect the genetic composition of natural plant populations, according to a new study.

Related Articles


Researchers at Uppsala University and Stockholm University are presenting the new study this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS.

It is known that a prominent floral display increases attractiveness to pollinators, but also increases the risk of damage from grazing animals and seed-eating insects. To investigate how pollinators and grazing animals affect the characteristics of natural plant populations, these researchers studied bird's eye primrose populations in alvar grasslands on the Baltic island of Öland. Two distinct morphs of primrose occur there: a short morph that produces its flowers close to the ground and a tall morph that displays its flowers well above the ground. The tall morph is better at attracting pollinators, but, on the other hand, it is more frequently damaged by grazing animals and seed predators.

In field experiments the scientists have shown that grazing pressure and pollination intensity determine whether the short or the tall primrose morph reproduces more successfully. The difference in plant height has a genetic basis, and over time differences in reproductive success affect the genetic composition of plant populations. For a period of eight years, the researchers documented changes in the proportion of short plants in natural populations and field experiments. The results show that altered grazing pressure leads to rapid changes in the genetic composition of the primrose populations, specifically in the proportion of short plants.

The Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland has been a World Heritage Site since 2000. The grazing pressure on the alvar grasslands of Öland has increased dramatically in the last fifteen years as a result of measures taken to keep the landscape open.

The study shows that grazing pressure impacts not only which plants dominate but also the genetic composition of the plant populations. These findings help us understand how differences in environmental conditions influence the evolution of genetic differentiation among plant populations, says Professor Jon Ågren at the Evolutionary Biology Centre.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Jon Ågren et al. Mutualists and antagonists drive among-population variation in selection and evolution of floral display in a perennial herb. PNAS, October 2013

Cite This Page:

Uppsala University. "Grazers, pollinators shape plant evolution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021153210.htm>.
Uppsala University. (2013, October 21). Grazers, pollinators shape plant evolution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021153210.htm
Uppsala University. "Grazers, pollinators shape plant evolution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021153210.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) — A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) — A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic has seen Senegal and Guinea Bissau close its borders with Guinea and the economic consequences have started to be felt, especially in Fouta Djallon, where the renowned potato industry has been hit hard. Duration: 02:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 30, 2014) — Just in time for Halloween, a glowing flower goes on display in Tokyo. Instead of sorcery and magic, its creators used science to genetically modify the flower, adding a naturally fluorescent plankton protein to its genetic mix. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
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