Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Barley adapts to climate change

25.01.2012
The upsurge in droughts is one of the main consequences of climate change, and affects crops in particular.

However, Anabel Robredo, a biologist at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), has confirmed that in the case of barley at least, climate change itself is providing it with self-defence mechanisms to tackle a lack of water.

Climate change is in fact also responsible for a considerable increase in the concentration of CO2, a gas that, paradoxically, is providing this plant with certain characteristics enabling it to offset the effects of drought. Her thesis is entitled Mecanismos fisiológicos de respuesta de la cebada al impacto de la sequia y el elevado CO2: adaptación al cambio climático (Physiological Response Mechanisms of Barley to the impact of drought and elevated CO2: adaptation to climate change).

Various international publications have also echoed this research, the most recent being Environmental and Experimental Botany.

Basically, Robredo has analysed the effect that takes place in the barley as a result of the combination of two of the main consequences brought to us by climate change: the enriching of CO2 and drought. As the researcher explains, “the atmospheric concentration of this gas has increased considerably within the last few decades, and it is expected to increase much more. So we compared barley plants that grow in a CO2 concentration equal to the current (ambient) one with others cultivated in double the concentration, which is what we are expected to reach by the end of this century." The study was carried out through a progressive imposition of drought so it also determined the capacity of these plants to recover following the lack of irrigation, in an ambient CO2 concentration as well as in the one expected for the future.

More efficient use of water

When discussing plants in general, the effects of an elevated concentration of CO2 were already known. The bibliographical references quoted by Robredo show that this is in fact so, since among other things, this elevated concentration increases biomass, root growth and total leaf area, and alters net photosynthesis rates and efficiency in water use. The so-called stomatal conductance is one of the keys, explains the researcher: “Stomata are pores that plants have in their leaves, and it is through them that they carry out the water and air exchange. When a plant is subjected to a high level of CO2, it closes its stomata to a certain degree. This causes the water to escape less, which is translated into greater efficiency in its use.”

So a greater concentration of CO2 would appear to put the plants in an advantageous situation to address droughts. “If they use the water more slowly, they use it more efficiently and can grow over a longer period of time,” explains Robredo. At least this is what she has been able to confirm in the case of barley. The results show that even though drought is harmful, its effect on barley is less when combined with an elevated concentration of CO2. In comparison with a situation in which an ambient level of this gas exists, its increase causes leaf and soil water content to fall less, the rates of photosynthesis to be maintained for longer, growth to be greater and the assimilation of nitrogen and carbon to be less affected. The researcher does in fact explain the importance of maintaining the balance between the nitrogen and the carbon: “Both the take-up of carbon and the assimilation of nitrogen have increased in a balanced way.”

On the other hand, when irrigation is re-established in barley plants that have been through a drought, its effect has been seen to revert more rapidly to its original state under elevated CO2 conditions, in most of the parameters analysed.

It cannot be extrapolated

So, under future CO2 conditions, the negative repercussions of drought driven by climate change would be delayed further in comparison with the current concentration of this gas. In the case of barley this is so. However, can these results be extrapolated to other crops? As this researcher points out, it is not that simple: “You have to be very careful because plant species often respond very differently, even displaying the opposite. But what we can say is that most plant species tend to use water more efficiently in conditions of elevated CO2 and drought, and that they grow more.”

About the author

Anabel Robredo-Ruiz de Azua (Bilbao, 1976) is a graduate in Biological Sciences. She wrote up her thesis under the supervision of Dr. Alberto Muñoz Rueda (Professor of Plant Physiology) and Dr. Amaia Mena-Petite (Associate Professor), both from the Department of Plant Biology and Ecology of the Faculty of Science and Technology of the UPV/EHU. Today, Robredo belongs to PhD Research Personnel at the laboratory of Plant Physiology of this same department and faculty.

Amaia Portugal | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.elhuyar.com

Further reports about: CO2 CO2 concentration Climate change UPV/EHU crops plant species

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>