Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New research shows forest trees remember their roots

When it comes to how they respond to the environment, trees may not be that different from humans.

Recent studies showed that even genetically identical human twins can have a different chance of getting a disease. This is because each twin has distinct personal experiences through their lifetime.

It turns out that the same is likely true for forest trees as well, according to new research from the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC).

"The findings were really quite stunning," says Malcolm Campbell, a biologist and lead author of the study. "People have been talking about a so-called "nursery effect" for a long time."

The study looked at the theory that trees and other plants, even when they were genetically identical, grew differently and responded to stress differently depending on the nursery that the plants were obtained from. Campbell says the research findings not only provide a strong affirmation of this effect, but also reveal insight on a molecular level. "Our results show that there is a form of molecular 'memory' in trees where a tree's previous personal experience influences how it responds to the environment."

In the new study, Campbell's graduate student Sherosha Raj used genetically identical poplar trees that had been grown in two different regions of Canada. These stem cuttings were then used to regrow the trees under identical climate-controlled conditions in Toronto. Raj subjected half of the trees to drought conditions while the remaining trees were well watered.

Since the trees were regrown under identical conditions, Campbell and his research group predicted all the specimens would respond to drought in the same manner, regardless of where they had come from. Remarkably, genetically identical specimens of two poplar varieties responded differently to the drought treatment depending on their place of origin.

Campbell's research group also showed that this difference occurred at the most fundamental level – the one of gene activity. Even though the specimens were all genetically identical, trees that had been obtained from Alberta used a different set of genes to respond to drought than the ones that had been obtained from Saskatchewan.

The findings of this study are relevant to foresters and gardeners in highlighting the importance of the nursery source for trees and other plants, which can determine how the plant will grow and resist stress in a forest or the garden. Additionally, the "memory" of previous experience discovered in this study could also help determine plant survival in response to changes in climate, or other environmental stresses like diseases or pests.

Dr. Campbell's research team included co-first author Dr. Katharina Bräutigam, Erin Hamnishi and Dr. Olivia Wilkins, all of the University of Toronto. The work was done in collaboration with colleagues at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Alberta.

The research was supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada competitive research funds, and in kind contributions from Alberta Pacific Forest Industries, and Agriculture and Agrifood Canada.

The study appears in this week's issue of PNAS: The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Karen Ho | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

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: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>