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Serpentine ecosystems shed light on the nature of plant adaptation and speciation
Date:3/10/2014

Plants that live in unusual soils, such as those that are extremely low in essential nutrients, provide insight into the mechanisms of adaptation, natural selection, and endemism. A seminal paper by Arthur Kruckeberg from 1951 on serpentine plant endemism has served as a solid bedrock foundation for future research on the link between natural selection and speciation. A recent article in the American Journal of Botany focuses on how this paper has influenced subsequent research on local adaptation, evolutionary pathways, and the relationship between climate, soils, and endemism.

In the latest in a series of AJB Centennial Review papers, AJB Anacker (University of California, Davis) examines the impact that Kruckeberg's 1951 AJB paper has had on our subsequent understanding of plant evolution and ecology.

Kruckeberg's classic paper reported on reciprocal transplant experiments, in which he made several generalizations about plant competition, local adaptation, and speciation. Kruckeberg showed that the strong selective pressures of serpentine soilscharacterized by low amounts of essential nutrients and water, and high in heavy metalscan lead to the formation of soil ecotypes (genetically distinct plant varieties), representing a possible first step in the evolution of serpentine endemism (e.g., plants that are only found on serpentine type soils). These important initial findings spurred subsequent research on determining plant traits (from molecular to organismal) that underlie serpentine adaptation.

Anacker draws attention to a second significant contribution of Kruckeberg's paperresearching the historic origins of endemic species, such as those found in serpentine soils. Anacker explains that endemic species are thought to originate in two way
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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2

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Serpentine ecosystems shed light on the nature of plant adaptation and speciation
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