The flexibility of plants helps them adapt to climate change


20/03/2011

Results from an international study involving Spanish researchers have shown that the phenotypic flexibility of plants, allowing them to change their structure and function, helping them to adapt to changes in the environment. This study will facilitate the understanding of the processes of plant responses to climate change that is observed today.

The analysis, which was published in the journal Trends in Plant Science, provides a complete overview of the molecular and genetic mechanisms of plants, which is important for ecologists, physiologists and molecular biologists, since it covers the primary requirements for the assumption that plants respond to global change.

The results show that plants in natural and agricultural systems have "the ability to adapt to a changing environment without requiring any evolutionary changes that always happen in a few generations," - said Fernando Valladares (Fernando Valladares), one of the authors of the analysis and research of the National Museum Natural Sciences (CSIC).

All such plants exhibit ductility greater or lesser extent. "Various studies suggest that the species characteristic of the more diverse and constantly changing environments characterized by a greater degree of flexibility. For example, plants of such media to a greater extent have a root plasticity in order to receive more benefit from the fertile and moist areas and to avoid sterile and dry area "- explained Valladares.

The pigmentation of plants, the length of the root system, the mass of leaves and water use efficiency are some of the leading indicators that are taken into account in the study of phenotypic plasticity of plant organisms.

"The differences in plasticity and its mechanisms allow us to better understand why different types of plants grow right where they grow. This gives us the opportunity to be the most likely scenario of their actions in response to climate change" - said the researcher.

The benefits of plants, changing their structure and function due to changes in the environment, according to the scientists, "could lead to the selection - in the case of grain crops - more flexible varieties that may not necessarily be the most productive or do not differ most easily predictable performance" .

According to the information Valladares next step in the research will be the "understanding of the mechanisms underlying the flexibility, such as epigenetics - not genetic factors that determine the development of the body - and how it affects the biological efficacy of wild species of plants or on long-term productivity of agricultural species."

According to the materials Greenrussia Translation: M. Potter


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