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Crop Biotech Update

Study Reports that Plants are Adapting to Increasing Atmospheric CO2

September 7, 2016

A new study from the University of Southampton reports that plants are adapting to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). The researchers led by Professor Gail Taylor used a unique resource – naturally high CO2 springs where plants have been subjected to more CO2 over many hundreds of years and multiple plant generations. They took Plantago lanceolata plants from a ‘spring' site in Bossoleto, Italy and compared the molecular signature with the same plants from a nearby ‘control' site (at today's CO2) and discovered striking differences in the total gene expression.

Professor Taylor said, "The study shows that when we take plants from these two places, and place them together in the same environment, the plants from spring sites were bigger and had a better rate of photosynthesis. Most importantly, plants from the spring sites had differences in the expression of hundreds of genes."

One of the most interesting findings was that stomatal pores on the surface of the leaf increase in number after multi-generation exposure to future CO2. The team predicted that pore number would decline, in line with past research over geological timescales using fossil plants.

For more information about this research, read the news release at the University of Southampton website.