White flowers of Galium odoratum

Forest Herbs Adapt to Climate Change Through Intra-Individual Variation, Study Shows

Forest herbs adapt to climate change by adjusting their growth patterns within individual plants, which helps them better capture light and conserve water in response to environmental challenges like drought and shading.

A recent study by Charlotte Møller and colleagues published in the Annals of Botany uncovers how forest understorey herbs adapt to climate change using intra-individual variation, enabling them to cope with environmental changes such as warmer temperatures, more frequent droughts, and earlier shading of the forest floor.

The researchers examined the forest understorey herb Galium odoratum, Sweet Woodruff, in 21 populations across three regions in Germany, where the plants were exposed to varying microclimatic conditions. The team transplanted these plants into a common garden and subjected them to shading and drought treatments, measuring plant height and leaf size to determine the coefficient of variation (CV) at different hierarchical levels.

A diagram in the shape of a triangle, showing Intra-shoot variation at the top, followed by intra-ramet variation underneath. Shading indicates that these are intra-individual variation and the other elements are inter-individual variation. These are Intra-genet variation and finally Intra-population variation.
Schematic figure of the hierarchical levels of organization of Galium odoratum. Source: Møller et al. 2023

The findings revealed that most of the total variation occurred at the intra-shoot CV level, followed by intra-ramet CV. The study also found that the soil temperature at the plants’ origin negatively correlated with CV in plant height, indicating that intra-individual variation is at least partially genetically based and may be adaptive. 

Early shade exposure led to increased intra-ramet CV in leaf length, while drought reduced intra-shoot CV in leaf width. Intra-shoot leaf width mean and CV were independent under control conditions but correlated under drought. These findings suggest that intra-individual variation helps plants plastically respond to drought and shading, allowing them to optimize light capture and reduce evapotranspiration.

The study is consistent with other research that shows that plants’ reproductive traits also become more variable in difficult weather. Other research has looked at genetic and epigenetic factors. A puzzle has been to pull apart the influence of the different factors. Møller and colleagues write in their paper:

This experimental study using G. odoratum as model species revealed that (1) intra-shoot variation, which is the lowest hierarchical level in our system, explains the vast majority of overall leaf trait variation in the populations, followed by intra-ramet variation – these two levels represent intra-individual variation, and our results thus confirm that intra-individual variation can exceed inter-individual variation, as previously observed (Herrera, 2017); (2) inter-individual and intra-individual trait variation at different scales is partly genetically based; (3) this variation may have been the result of selection by microclimatic conditions in the populations of origin; (4) intra-shoot and intra-ramet variations in leaf traits vary under induced drought and early shading; and (5) drought also led to a dependent relationship between mean leaf size and intra-individual variation in leaf size.

Møller et al. 2023

READ THE ARTICLE

Møller, C., March-Salas, M., Kuppler, J., De Frenne, P. and Scheepens, J.F. (2023) “Intra-individual variation in Galium odoratum is affected by experimental drought and shading,” Annals of Botany, 131(3), pp. 411–422. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcac148.

Fi Gennu

Fi Gennu is a pen-name used for tracking certain posts on the blog. Often they're posts produced with the aid of Hemingway. It's almost certain that Alun Salt either wrote or edited this post.

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  • Maybe not genetic determination, but the program of organogenesis is a hereditary adaptation program implemented through regulatory adaptive mechanisms, in which genes play only the role of a step in a complex regulatory program of adaptation of a plant organism, recorded in the regulatory pathways for implementing this program, depending on the external conditions of an open natural environment. plant-environment systems. The plant does not have a dominant hereditary program written according to the Mendel 3: 1 program, a more complex program in metabolism, signal transport, perception and the same signal transmission pathway involving the synthesis of molecules by gene transcription, and part of the transformation of molecules under the influence of secondary metabolism, synthesizing hormones that control online the implementation of the program of correspondence between organogenesis and the environment.

  • Hormones are derivatives of proteins and play the role of switching programs in the apex for organogenesis to new development programs, and the team goes through apical dominance alternate (for cereals) or simultaneous (for rapeseed, for example) depending on the dominance of the bhormone stimulator or inhibitor in the apical iniui cell, Next organogenesis depends on the duration of dominance during the phase. This signal distributes the flow of nutrients in the plant. Genes play only the role of a step in the metabolism of the whole plant. Communication with the environment is carried out in a constant mode by the same hormones until the status of dominance appears in the inuinal cell of the primary and secondary meristems.

  • Hormones are derivatives of proteins and play the role of switching programs in the apex for organogenesis to new development programs, and the team goes through apical dominance alternate (for cereals) or simultaneous (for rapeseed, for example) depending on the dominance of the stimulant or inhibitor hormone in the initial cell of the apex. organogenesis depends on the duration of dominance during the phase. This signal distributes the flow of nutrients in the plant. Genes play only the role of a step in the metabolism of the whole plant. Communication with the environment is carried out in a constant mode by the same hormones until the status of dominance appears in the initial cell of the primary and secondary meristems.

  • Thus, the consideration of crop production and biology, physiology, genetics and breeding is one general scientific science, the maintenance of agronomy and breeding, in which the first view follows from the second.

  • Bleaching in epigenetics is probably a small part of the complexity of plant metabolism and not the only one, since the integrity of the complex sequence of regulatory pathways of adaptation pathways in plant metabolism, initial cells and secondary meristems, organogenesis and tissue differentiation is logical.
    It is not possible to optimize plant strategies in response to stress by selection, since the entire process of plant adaptation is recorded in cell metabolism and plant organogenesis, is associated with an exceptional response to the distribution of the range and plant survival. It has a balance and dominance of hormones, activation of enzymes by regulatory pathways using numerous transport pathways into cells, regulatory pathways for perception, transport and fermentation of transformation in the functional role of molecules is more difficult than changing a single gene with subsequent selection and inheritance. Adaptation is harder than evolution.

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