Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plants point the way to coping with climate change

10.01.2007
Roses flowering at Christmas and snow-free ski resorts this winter suggest that climate change is already with us and our farmers and growers will need ways of adapting. Scientists funded by two Swindon-based Research Councils are studying how plants have naturally evolved to cope with the changing seasons of temperate climates and have made a discovery that could help us to breed new varieties of crops, able to thrive in a changing climate.

The importance of the discovery is that it reveals how a species has developed different responses to different climates in a short period of time.


Plant in Snow

Researchers at the John Innes Centre (JIC) have been examining how plants use the cold of winter to time their flowering for the relative warmth of spring. This process, called vernalization, varies even within the same plant species, depending on local climate. In Scandinavia, where winter temperatures can vary widely, the model plant, Arabidopsis has a slow vernalization response to prevent plants from being 'fooled' into flowering by a short mid-winter thaw.

One particular gene, named FLC, delays flowering over the winter and the research team discovered how cold turns off FLC and what keeps it off during growth in spring. In the UK plants only need four weeks of cold to stably inactivate FLC, allowing plants to start their spring flowering early. Arabidopsis plants in Sweden have a mechanism that requires 14 straight weeks of winter cold before FLC is stably inactivated. This prevents the plants flowering only to be hit with another month of harsh winter weather.

Research leader at JIC, Professor Caroline Dean, explains: "We studied levels of the FLC gene in Arabidopsis plants from different parts of the world expecting to find regional variations that correlated with how much cold was required to switch FLC off. We discovered that FLC levels in autumn and the rate of reduction during the early phases of cold were quite similar in Arabidopsis plants from Edinburgh and N. Scandinavia . However, we found big variations in how much cold was required to achieve stable inactivation of FLC. FLC was stably silenced much faster in Edinburgh than it was in N. Scandinavia and a genetic analysis showed that differences in the FLC gene itself contributed to this variation.

Professor Dean said: "It looks like the variation in this mechanism to adapt the timing of flowering to different winter conditions has evolved extremely quickly. We hope that by understanding how plants have adapted to different climates it will give us a head-start in breeding crops able to cope with global warming."

The JIC scientists worked in collaboration with a team at the University of Southern California and were funded by the UK's main public funders of biological and environmental sciences, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council.

Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, commented: "As well as working to prevent climate change we need to be able to harness natural methods to adapt food crops to cope with changed and hostile climates around the world. This is an example of how basic science can make a practical difference."

Matt Goode | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>