The findings have implications for conservation strategies, said Sharon Strauss, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis and an author of the study.
“In extreme cases where we might consider augmenting genetic resources available to imperiled populations, it might be best to obtain these genes from populations inhabiting similar kinds of habitats,” Strauss said.
Graduate student Jason Sexton, with Strauss and Kevin Rice, professor of plant sciences, studied the monkeyflower (Mimulus laciniatus), an annual plant that lives in mossy areas of the Sierra at elevations of 3,200 feet to 10,000 feet.
Mountain gradients are useful for studying the effects of climate change, Strauss said, because they enable scientists to reproduce the effects of climate change without changing other factors, such as day length. The plants are already living across a range of temperatures, with those at lower elevations exposed to warmer conditions.
Sexton cross-pollinated monkeyflowers from two different locations at the warm, low-elevation edge of the plants’ range with monkeyflowers from the middle of the range. All the hybrids were then grown in the field at the low end of the range.
As the researchers observed the growing monkeyflowers, they were able to test two contrasting predictions about how gene flow should affect plants at the edge of the range. The first prediction was that any mixing of genes from a wider population would help plants adapt to warming conditions. The second was that genes from the center of the range that did not help plants adapt would dilute any adaptive genes, negating their benefit.
“Gene flow” describes the movement of genetic traits within and among populations, as individual animals or plants breed.
To answer these questions, the researchers measured how the mixing of genes from different elevations affected the plants’ ability to live at the warm edge of their range, through traits such as time for seedlings to emerge, time to flowering and overall reproductive success.
The study showed that the first prediction was true – gene flow did help the plants adapt to a warmer environment.
“We generally found that there were benefits from gene flow, but gene flow from other warm-edge areas was most beneficial,” Strauss said.
Sexton noted that hybrids of monkeyflowers from two warm-edge populations did better than either of their parents, perhaps because the populations had been using different genes to adapt to warm environments.
“When added together, their performance jumped,” he said.
Often considered genetically meager, edge populations should be high-priority conservation targets since they may possess adaptations to their unique environments, Sexton said.
The work was funded by the California Native Plant Society, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Science Foundation. Sexton is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia.About UC Davis
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Individual Receptors Caught at Work
19.10.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Rapid environmental change makes species more vulnerable to extinction
19.10.2017 | Universität Zürich
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy