Biotech Updates

Plants' Ability to Adapt Changes Conventional Knowledge on Climate Change, Says New Study

March 23, 2016

As temperatures increase, plants speed up their respiratory metabolism, leading to elevated carbon release and making forests around the world a carbon source. However, a new study at the University of Minnesota on more than 1,000 young trees has found that plants adjust or acclimate to a warmer climate and may release only one-fifth as much additional carbon dioxide than scientists previously believed.

The study was based on B4Warmed, a five-year project that simulated the effects of climate change on 10 boreal and temperate tree species growing in an open-air setting in 48 plots in two forests in northern Minnesota. The researchers increased temperatures at the test plots by 3.4 degrees C, an increase that is likely to happen by the end of the 21st century, and learned that plants grown and measured at those higher temperatures increased their leaf respiration by an average 5 percent, compared to plants in ambient temperatures. If the plants were not acclimated to the higher temperatures, their respiration would have increased by 23 percent over the plants in ambient temperatures.

For more details, read the news release at the University of Minnesota website.