Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Where there’s muck there’s grass

01.09.2003


The oldest ecological experiment in the world, set up almost 150 years ago to see whether inorganic fertilisers could produce more grass than traditional animal manures, is becoming an important source of evidence on the impact of climate change on genetic variation in plants.



Speaking at the British Ecological Society’s Annual Meeting, being held at Manchester Metropolitan University on 9-11 September 2003, Professor Jonathan Silvertown of the Open University will explain what the Park Grass Experiment has taught ecologists over the past century and how this uniquely long dataset has shed new light on many ecological problems, including the link between the genetics and population dynamics of species.

Set up in 1856, three years before Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species, the Park Grass Experiment is a hay meadow at Rothamsted Research to which a series of different fertiliser treatments have been applied annually. As well as measuring the yield of hay from each plot, ecologists have also measured the change in species composition in the meadow, and kept samples of the hay cut from it over the years.


Professor Silvertown will tell the meeting: “Long-term observations are increasingly important to understanding climate change and now show beyond any reasonable doubt that the warming of the Earth’s climate over the course of the 20th century has had detectable and widespread effects on the distribution, abundance and seasonal behaviour of plant and animal species. Climate change not only alters the abundance and behaviour of species, but also the evolutionary pressures acting upon them and so we can expect natural selection to alter the genetic composition of our native plants and animals.”

“Our best tool for predicting what may happen in the next 50 years is what has happened over that last 100 years in response to historical droughts etc. Apart from the Park Grass Experiment, very few natural habitats have been under continuous study for this length of time. By studying 20th century records of plant species found within the experiment and combining these with experiments on the population dynamics and genetics of plants growing there, we have found that species that have a self-fertilising mating system seem to be more prone to local extinction than species that reproduce by outcrossing. We think that this may be because populations of self-fertilising species have only limited genetic variation and that this makes it more difficult for them to adapt to changing conditions. This is some of the best evidence yet that the genetics of natural plant populations influences their ability to survive over the long term.”

Professor Silvertown is now planning to analyse the DNA of hay samples cut and stored more than 50 years before Crick and Watson discovered the structure of DNA. “We are now investigating the exciting possibility that we can look retrospectively at the genetics of plants that grew in the experiment over 100 years ago. This is being done by extracting DNA from old samples of hay that have been stored at Rothamsted. Our aim is to develop a genetic record for the plants at Park Grass that will parallel the 140 year-long ecological record which we already have. When we can compare the two records, we should be able to see how climatic changes that influence the abundance of species alter genetic variation, with possible consequences for the fate of plant species in the future,” he says.

Professor Silvertown will present his full findings at 10:20 on Thursday 11 September 2003.

Becky Allen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How to detect water contamination in situ?
22.09.2016 | Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU)

nachricht Quantifying the chemical effects of air pollutants on oxidative stress and human health
12.09.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

Im Focus: Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.

In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...

Im Focus: New laser joining technologies at ‘K 2016’ trade fair

Every three years, the plastics industry gathers at K, the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will also be attending again and presenting many innovative technologies, such as for joining plastics and metals using ultrashort pulse lasers. From October 19 to 26, you can find the Fraunhofer ILT at the joint Fraunhofer booth SC01 in Hall 7.

K is the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. As in previous years, the organizers are expecting 3,000 exhibitors and more than...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

ICPE in Graz for the seventh time

20.09.2016 | Event News

Using mathematical models to understand our brain

16.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Chains of nanogold – forged with atomic precision

23.09.2016 | Life Sciences

New leukemia treatment offers hope

23.09.2016 | Health and Medicine

Self-assembled nanostructures hit their target

23.09.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>