Date: August 27, 2015
Source: University of Liverpool
Summary: A new study has found that the genetic diversity of wild plant species could be altered rapidly by anthropogenic climate change.
A study by the University of Liverpool has found that the genetic diversity of wild plant species could be altered rapidly by anthropogenic climate change.
Scientists studied the genetic responses of different wild plant species, located in a natural grassland ecosystem near Buxton, to a variety of simulated climate change treatments–including drought, watering, and warming–over a 15-year period.
Analysis of DNA markers in the plants revealed that the climate change treatments had altered the genetic composition of the plant populations. The results also indicated a process of evolutionary change in one of the study species, suggesting that genetic diversity may be able to buffer plants against the harmful effects of climate change, allowing an “evolutionary rescue”
Dr Raj Whitlock, from the University’s Institute of Integrative Biology, said: “Climate change is expected to present a significant challenge to the persistence of many populations of wild plant species.
“Our understanding of the potential for such responses to climate change is still limited, and there have been very few experimental tests carried out within intact ecosystems.
“We found that experimental climate change treatments can modify the genetic structure of plant populations within 15 years, which is very fast, in evolutionary terms. Evolutionary flexibility within the plant populations at Buxton may help to explain why the grassland there has proven resistant to simulated environmental change.”
The experiment took place at the Buxton Climate Change Impacts Laboratory (BCCIL) in Derbyshire, where intact species-rich limestone grassland has been subjected to experimentally manipulated climate treatments since 1993 (involving summer drought, increased temperature, and enhanced rainfall). BCCIL was set up by Prof Phil Grime (University of Sheffield), and is currently run by Dr. Jason Fridley (Syracuse University) and Prof Grime, with support from the USA’s National Science Foundation. Climate treatments at the site are amongst the longest-running multi-factor climate manipulations anywhere in the world.
The research, published in Global Change Biology, was carried out collaboratively with Syracuse University, USA.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
Catherine H. Ravenscroft, Raj Whitlock, Jason D. Fridley. Rapid genetic divergence in response to 15 years of simulated climate change. Global Change Biology, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12966
My insight about this article
On Christmas Eve, 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 did a live broadcast from lunar orbit. Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, William Anders who were the first humans to orbit the moon, described what they saw and they read scripture from the book of Genesis to the rest of us back here. Later that night, they took a photo that would change the way we see and think about our world.
It was an image of our mother Earth; beautiful; breathtaking; a glowing marble of blue oceans, and green forests, and brown mountains brushed with white clouds, rising over the surface of the moon.
The recent trends in global warming and climate change frighten me if that view of our planet will become a history and would be seen only in museums or art galleries. Rising concerns of rising sea level, change in rainfall patterns and human health as an effect of climate change are alarming. Specifically the problems of food security seem to devastate the entire world as the growth of flora and its diversity are put into question.
Biotechnology seems to provide much hope to combat the existing as well as forthcoming challenges of climate change before they become too much of a crisis to handle. The above mentioned research findings at University of Liverpool’s Institute of Integrative Biology states that the genetic flexibility of plants can be exploited to make them resistant to climate change.
My view is that these traits and the genes responsible for the genetic flexibility when identified, can work wonders to the farmers and also help solve issues faced by farmers due to climate change. These genes can be incorporated into food crops that will make the resistant to erratic climate patterns arising due to global warming. The study of epigenetic factors controlling genetic flexibility in plants and recombinant DNA technology would stand instrumental in accomplishing the idea.
However, the raising concerns on GMOs would show some reluctance, the need for food production to feed the hunger of growing population and scientific rationale in convincing the safety of GMOs would pave way for a sustainable tomorrow through the potent of biotechnology.
The above information and write up for Sixty360 blog was prepared by me!!!
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