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Measuring the stress of forested areas
Date:7/22/2008

y Dr. Txema Becerril are studying the plants' defence mechanisms in order to predict damage before it is produced. They measure the photo-protector substances created by the plants and analyse their behaviour, using them as biosensors of photo-oxidative stress.

Amongst all these plants, they have been studying trees and other forest species, given that they are long-cycle species and it is important that they acclimatize correctly to the environment before reforestation is embarked upon. The autochthonous species of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (CAPV), especially the southern part thereof, being where the two climatic regions - the Atlantic and the Mediterranean meet, would be the first to suffer the consequences of climate change. The study mainly involves species with ecological, economic or landscape interest, and analyses both the deciduous species and the perennial varieties; particularly the latter as they withstand the cold winter temperatures without shedding their leaves.

On the trail of the box tree

The box is a model species and a good example for analysing the defence mechanisms of plants: it is capable of withstanding quite different environments (both dry and sunny climes as well as damp and shaded conditions), thanks to its resistance and adaptability. When it is under stress, the leaves go red, as other species do in autumn, but its peculiarity is that it is able to convert its chromoplasts (where the red pigments accumulate) into chloroplasts (with green pigments) and once again capture energy when the stress conditions disappear.

In order to measure the biomarkers of photo-oxidative stress the research team also simulated the winter or summer conditions in the greenhouse and in the growing rooms at the Faculty of Science and Technology, i.e. they artificially induced in the plants the conditions which they would have to be subjected. This makes it possible to isolate each one of the
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Contact: Alaitz Ochoa de Eribe
alaitzo@elhuyar.com
34-688-673-679
Elhuyar Fundazioa
Source:Eurekalert  

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