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Crop Biotech Update

Species Extinction in Plants

June 3, 2011

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) publishes annually the Red List, an update of the list of species which are threatened with extinction. In 2010, the list describes 17,390 species out of almost 50,000 species surveyed, which are extinct. In the recent estimates, about 20% of flowering plants are currently at risk of extinction. Among the factors that contribute to the endangerment of plant species include habitat loss and damage due to land and agriculture development, pollution, or competition with invasive species.

However, in a study conducted in MCGill University in Canada, results show that a plant species' risk of extinction is closely related to the age of the species. "In plants, we show that the processes of extinction and speciation [the evolutionary process by which new species arise] are linked - seemingly,  the most vulnerable species are often the youngest. Young species may appear at high risk of extinction simply because their populations have not yet had time to grow and spread," explains Jonathan Davies, a member of the research team. "However, it is also possible that some plant species might be doomed to extinction from their very inception," he added. 

Details of the news can be seen at  http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=EN_NEWS_FP7&ACTION=D
&DOC=9&CAT=NEWS&QUERY=01304e6c6737:7923:58b40a09&RCN=33450
.