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 New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

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: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>