Recently, the question of the influence of global warming on our planet is increasingly being raised. We also do not ignore this topic and regularly talk about research in this area in our news telegram channel. However, increasingly frightening predictions continue to come from scientists from around the world. This time, a new study by experts from the Max Planck Institute and the University of California at Berkeley suggests that global warming could destroy most of the plants in Europe. And this process has already begun.
Why global warming destroys plants
Like all living organisms on our planet, plants are able to develop and “adapt” to changing environmental conditions. According to our colleagues from the Science Daily publication, specialists from the United States studied the population of Tal reeds (Arabidopsis thaliana), a plant from the cabbage family that is quite common in Europe. Scientists have collected data from more than 500 geographical locations in Europe commonly used for biological research. At the same time, growing these plants in Spain and Germany under dry conditions showed how individual plants react to heat and drought. Arabidopsis thaliana is also interesting because it is able to respond fairly quickly to changing conditions and acquire new genetic mutations in this regard.
Researchers were especially interested in how a unique combination of genetic mutations allows different representatives of the same plant species to withstand experimentally simulated climate change. Since some of these acquired mutations can provide physiological benefits. This data was then combined with models predicting how temperature and precipitation will change over the next few decades. This made it possible to understand how climate change caused by global warming will influence plant biological diversity.
Based on our calculations, by 2050, we can predict a significant decline in the population of plants growing in Southern and Central Europe, the authors of the study said. Only those plants that have the genes necessary for existence under new conditions can survive. And in some instances such genes have already appeared.
It would seem that since plants can adapt to changing conditions, why do scientists sound the alarm? The thing is that the quantitative ratio of plants with “new” genes is extremely small and forecasts show that many of the existing plant populations simply will not have the necessary genetic mutations to survive at a time of changing climate.
At the same time, do not forget that Arabidopsis thaliana is able to change quite easily, which can not be said about other types of plants. Therefore, if we extrapolate the new data obtained to other plant species of Southern and Central Europe, the picture at the output is not encouraging. Most of the plants still will not be able to survive climate change, provided that the ecological situation does not improve.
Scientists are now collecting genetic information regarding the most important plant species for the region in order to make more accurate predictions about plant extinction. Having such information in hand, it will be possible to understand which plant species are most at risk of extinction, and it will also be possible to develop tactics in order to avoid this.