Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Increasing Drought Stress Predicted to Challenge Vulnerable Hydraulic System of Plants

29.11.2012
The hydraulic system of trees is so finely-tuned that predicted increases in drought due to climate change may lead to catastrophic failure in many species.

A recent paper co-authored by George Washington University Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Amy Zanne finds that those systems in plants around the globe are operating at the top of their safety threshold, making forest ecosystems vulnerable to increasing environmental stress.

In the current issue of the journal Nature, Dr. Zanne and lead authors from the University of Western Sydney in Australia and Ulm University in Germany, report that the hydraulic system trees depend on is a unique but unstable mechanism that is constantly challenged.

“Drought is a major force shaping our forests,” said Dr. Zanne, a faculty member within the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. “Over the last century, drought has been responsible globally for numerous large-scale forest diebacks. To make effective predictions of how forest landscapes may change in the future, we need to first understand how plants work.”

The primary challenge plants face during drought is how to keep their plumbing working. Drought stress creates trapped gas emboli in the water system, which reduces the ability of plants to supply water to leaves for photosynthetic gas exchange and can ultimately result in desiccation and death.

“Vulnerability to embolism is one of the main factors determining drought effects on trees,” Dr. Zanne said. “However, plants vary dramatically in their resistance to drought-induced embolism, which has made predictions of how forests might be altered under future climates more difficult.”

While the research findings are alarming, plants do have a few other tricks up their sleeves. They may have some flexibility of changing their plumbing or new species of trees may replace species no longer capable of persisting in a given place.

An international team consisting of Dr. Zanne and 23 other plant scientists organized via the ARC-NZ Research Network for Vegetation Function at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, analyzed existing measures of plant hydraulic safety thresholds in forest species around the world.

The surprising result that the group discovered is that while plants vary greatly in their embolism resistance, they are sitting at similar safety thresholds across all forest types. The team found these thresholds are largely independent of mean annual precipitation.

The findings explain why drought-induced forest decline occurs in arid as well as wet forests, which had historically not been considered at risk.

George Washington University
In the heart of the nation's capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 130 countries.

Latarsha Gatlin | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.gwu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Tracking the American Woodcock
28.07.2015 | University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

nachricht Possible Path Toward First Anti-MERS Drugs
28.07.2015 | American Crystallographic Association (ACA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Superfast fluorescence sets new speed record

Plasmonic device has speed and efficiency to serve optical computers

Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.

Im Focus: Unlocking the rice immune system

Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight

A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...

Im Focus: Smarter window materials can control light and energy

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.

By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...

Im Focus: Simulations lead to design of near-frictionless material

Argonne scientists used Mira to identify and improve a new mechanism for eliminating friction, which fed into the development of a hybrid material that exhibited superlubricity at the macroscale for the first time. Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) researchers helped enable the groundbreaking simulations by overcoming a performance bottleneck that doubled the speed of the team's code.

While reviewing the simulation results of a promising new lubricant material, Argonne researcher Sanket Deshmukh stumbled upon a phenomenon that had never been...

Im Focus: NASA satellite camera provides 'EPIC' view of Earth

A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.

The color images of Earth from NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) are generated by combining three separate images to create a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Euro Bio-inspired - International Conference and Exhibition on Bio-inspired Materials

23.07.2015 | Event News

Clash of Realities – International Conference on the Art, Technology and Theory of Digital Games

10.07.2015 | Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine in Leipzig: Last chance to submit abstracts until 2 July

25.06.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cold Hotspots: METEOR expedition takes a close look at upwelling zones in the Baltic Sea

28.07.2015 | Earth Sciences

A new EU funded training for young scientists in cancer research

28.07.2015 | Awards Funding

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity

28.07.2015 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>