Navigation Links
A link between greenhouse gases and the evolution of C4 grasses
Date:12/20/2007

How a changing climate can affect ecosystems is an important and timely question, especially considering the recent global rise in greenhouse gases. Now, in an article published online on December 20th in the journal Current Biology, evolutionary biologists provide strong evidence that changes in global carbon dioxide levels probably had an important influence on the emergence of a specific group of plants, termed C4 grasses, which includes major cereal crops, plants used for biofuels, and species that represent important components of grasslands across the world.

C4 plants are specially equipped to combat an energetically costly process, known as photorespiration, that can occur under conditions of high temperature, drought, high salinity, andith relevance to these latest findingslow carbon dioxide levels. Although a combination of any of these factors might have provided the impetus behind the evolution of the various C4 lineages, it had been widely speculated that a drop in global carbon dioxide levels, occurring approximately 30 million years ago during the Oligocene period, may have been the major driving force. Establishing the link between the two, however, has proven difficult partly because there are no known fossils of C4 plants from this period. Enter Pascal-Antoine Christin and colleagues from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, who decided to take an alternative approach to date a large group of grasses. By using a molecular clock technique, the authors were able to determine that the Chloridoideae subfamily of grasses emerged approximately 30 million years ago, right around the time global carbon dioxide levels were dropping. Furthermore, a model of the evolution of these grasses suggests that this correlation is not a trivial coincidence and instead reflects a causal relationship.

As the authors noted in their study, many of the C4 grasses evolved after the drop in global carbon dioxide levels 30 million years ago. How to explain this" The authors speculate that while an atmosphere low in carbon dioxide established the basic conditions necessary for C4 evolution, other ecological factors might be at work. In light of this, the authors hope to apply the same approaches used in the paper described here to investigate the role of other variables, such as drought, salinity, and flooding, in the evolution of C4 plants. In addition to improving our understanding of how climate changes influenced ecosystems in the past, such studies may allow predictions of how human activities could affect the planet in the future. Indeed, with regard to global carbon dioxide levels, Christin and colleagues write, Besides its influence on climatic variables, increased CO2 concentration could trigger important ecological changes in major terrestrial ecosystems by affecting the distribution of C4-dominated biomes and the affiliated flora and fauna. This implies that a reversal of the conditions that favored C4 plants could potentially lead to their demisea startling prospect if one considers the human races reliance on C4 crops like corn, sugarcane, sorghum, and millets.


'/>"/>

Contact: Cathleen Genova
cgenova@cell.com
617-397-2802
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Study shows link between alcohol consumption and hiv disease progression
2. St. Jude influenza survey uncovers key differences between bird flu and human flu
3. Hidden interactions between predators and prey: evolution causes cryptic dynamics in ecology
4. Groundbreaking Canada-US study proves link between emissions and mercury pollution in fish
5. Research explains link between cholesterol and heart disease
6. Groundbreaking Canada-US study proves link between emissions and mercury pollution in fish
7. Weight gain between first and second pregnancies associated with increased odds of male second child
8. Evidence of a relationship between swimming babies and infections
9. Of mice and men: similarities between skeletons of both
10. Analysis of breast and colon cancer genes finds many areas of differences between tumors
11. Fossilized cashew nuts reveal Europe was important route between Africa and South America
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/20/2016)... 20, 2016 The rising popularity of ... leasing is stoking significant interest in keyless access ... Bluetooth low energy (BLE), biometrics and near-field communication ... wave of wireless technologies in the automotive industry. ... advanced access systems opens the market to specialist ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... Dec 16, 2016 Research and Markets has ... - Global Forecast to 2021" report to their offering. ... The biometric vehicle ... at a CAGR of 14.06% from 2016 to 2021. The market ... projected to reach 854.8 Million by 2021. The growth of the ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... -- ... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Global Military ... report forecasts the global military biometrics market to grow at a CAGR ... been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry ... the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/19/2017)... -- Research and Markets ... has announced the addition of the "Implantable ... report to their offering. Report Highlights: ... a detailed analysis on current and future market trends to identify the ... values as the base numbers Key market trends across ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... ... 19, 2017 , ... November Research Group, LLC, a global ... device manufacturers and regulators, is proud to announce the worldwide release of PRIMO ... to provide product vigilance departments with the flexibility and ease of use of ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... , Jan. 19, 2017  ArmaGen, Inc., today ... , Ph.D., as chief executive officer, as well ... Dr. Schmidt brings to ArmaGen more than 17 years ... and development of biotherapeutics and pharmaceuticals. ... the diverse experience and skillset necessary to lead ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... ... 18, 2017 , ... The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) ... Sharing Policy. Specifically, the nation’s leading informatics experts, said data sharing plans should ... AMIA recommended that NIH earmark funding for researchers to produce and execute data ...
Breaking Biology Technology: